The truth was, Laila loved eating meals at Tariq's house as much as she disliked eating them at hers. At Tariq's, there was no eating alone; they always ate as a family. Laila liked the violet plastic drinking glasses they used and the quarter lemon that always floated in the water pitcher. She liked how they started each meal with a bowl of fresh yogurt, how they squeezed sour oranges on everything, even the yogurt, and how they made small, harmless jokes at each other's expense. Over meals, conversations always flowed. [...]
Her time with Tariq's family always felt natural to Laila, effortless, uncomplicated by differences in tribe or language, or by the personal spites and grudges that infected the air at her own home. pp 116-17
While we haven't had to live with the whistle of incoming rockets, who hasn't been in this kind of situation?
At this, Tariq burst out cackling. And, soon, they both were in the grips of a hopeless attack of laughter. Just when one became fatigued, the other would snort, and off they would go on another round. p.141
Like The Kiterunner
, I was propelled through this book by the astonishing, achingly beautiful prose.
Let me tell you something.
A man's heart is a wretched, wretched thing, Miriam.
It isn't like a mother's womb.
It won't bleed, it won't stretch to make room for you. p.26
One character marvels "at how every Afghan story is marked by death and loss and unimaginable grief." The story overflows with violence, abuse, and the daily, wretched acts of oppression and wickedness. The outrageous rules of life under the Taliban (my favorite rule: women will wear no charming clothes) reflect their tired, dreary philosophy. This may not be a book for the tender of heart. Yet, restoration of hope and simple gratitude do make their appearances.
The final sentence was superb. It captured the essence of the book and unleashed more tears. It undid me.