Forgiveness is the Rising Sun - a Review of A Thousand Splendid Suns
Orphanage - when the word comes to mind what image does it evoke? Gentleness, love and caring, or depravity, hunger and loneliness?
And the parent - how do we think of the parent who places a child in an orphanage, no matter the reason? Do we bother to picture that parent in colorful love, or do we blanket them in scratchy condemnation?
Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Sons
will take you on that journey of self-exploration. It surmounted my expectations for this lavishly praised novel. It is set in the war torn Afghanistan of the turn of the last century and later. His characters, especially Mariam and Laila, layered on with fibers of tensile strength, simply take my breath away.
Most profound for me is the degree to which they are glazed in the capacities of judgment and forgiveness. I usually think of the word judgment in a negative sense, but the protagonists in this novel have a much wider range of familiarity with the term. More than I, they can fathom the construct of their character at the macro level and act out of their better long term views.
Mariam, and later Laila, emptied from the female
mold of subservience preserved for ages by the Afghan male prerogative, simply broke the molds, each becoming a striking product of their will to be uncommon. And it was a good thing for them and the children in their household that in their unique pairing each woman was able to resist the bitterness of jealousy prone judgment. Together they formed a nurturing team, and in the end formidably so.
They faced trials beyond my stretching imagination
and enemies that remain caricatures for me, in spite of all the media coverage, documentaries, movies and text I absorb - but that were ferocious realities in their lives.
Facing the overarching menace of invading foreign forces and the ingrown reach of condemnation and punishment that ever-threatened the story's figures from their own local governments, the women and the fantastic nurturing males that figure so prominently in the book, display courage and perseverance and finesse of conscience I can scarcely recall witnessing in my own tame life.
The author, the characters, and I are all
Muslim, each epitomizing our own particular vestiges of belief and practice (we call deen). And I am thankful that the reader can see beyond the fearful hype that resounds in our media, aiming to bring judgment upon the religion for some pseudo-adherents' inability to sort out custom, tradition and religion.
The example of forgiveness that permeates the narrative is, for me, a metaphor for the forgiveness that is possible for us from the Creator, as each day's new sun rises.
Oh this is a book for me, coming from a family where shunning is easily practiced.
I would like to examine where that old family trait came from. It never made sense to me, but this book is about so much more because relationships are so multilayered.
It's the book that I read when I became enamored of Hosseini's writing. It's rife with opportunities for teaching lessons of relationship and ethics, and what better format than a contemporary graphic novel.
If you, like me, have not seen the movie, this is a prime time to get it, give it, watch it with the family.