Read any good books this summer? Our freshmen did. This year's Freshmen Summer Reading Project included A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
Included as part of the Spartans Rawkin' Welcome Week, students met with faculty members for an hour-long book discussion as a way to introduce them to the intellectual life of campus.
It was a good book to delve into a variety of social and political topics. Afghan-American novelist Hosseini, who also wrote The Kite Runner, writes about the unlikely friendship of two Afghani women spanning three decades from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to the post-Taliban rebuilding.
A Publishers Weekly review sums up the plot: Mariam is the scorned illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, forced at age 15 into marrying the 40-year-old Rasheed, who grows increasingly brutal as she fails to produce a child. Eighteen later, Rasheed takes another wife, 14-year-old Laila, a smart and spirited girl whose only other options, after her parents are killed by rocket fire, are prostitution or starvation. Against a backdrop of unending war, Mariam and Laila become allies in an asymmetrical battle with Rasheed. … Hosseini gives a forceful but nuanced portrait of a patriarchal despotism where women are agonizingly dependent on fathers, husbands and especially sons, the bearing of male children being their sole path to social status.
If you're missing out on the feeling of reading a good book and having a challenging discussion, pick up a copy and check out these discussion questions. Be forewarned there are spoilers in these questions so you'll probably want to read the book first.