Khaled Hosseini's second novel did not disappoint me, despite the unfavorable comparisons with the Kite Runner. It is the story of two women who both end up, through very unfortunate circumstances, married to the same man. He is not a nice man. It was exhausting just reading about the women's lives and their losses and what they endured just to survive. Without giving away the ending, I'll just say that it is worth it to see the book through to it's conclusion.
I frequently had to remind myself that though it is fiction, the conditions are real and they are recent. Reading about this sort of oppression makes me feel grateful that I have such control over my life. I can work, and can pursue whatever career I want, can go where I want to go, and can marry (or in my case, live in delicious sin with) whomever I choose (even more so, since I live in Massachusetts). I'm not going to get all patriotic because I'm sure I'd be just as happy in, say, England or the Netherlands, but I feel lucky that I wasn't born in the Middle East.
Things are looking up for women in that part of the world though. Just a couple of days ago I learned that Afghan women are shedding their burqas for Kabul's version of America's Next Top Model. Progress at last!