A very good read. Excellent writing style that makes this story move along. Not a topic or an environment that I would typically read about and in doing so I found that this story took me way out of my comfort zones. A depressing story of two women's lives in Afghanistan.
Summary: The story surrounds around the relationship between the girls Mariam and Laila. The story is comprised of 4 parts . Mariam in Part 1. Laila in Part 2 and in Part 4. The relationship between the two in Part 3
Mariam is the child of an illegitimate relationship between her mother and father. She is forced to live with her mother until one day the mother commits suicide. After the mother passes Mariam is forced to go live with her father where she often faces the abuse of her fathers wife. Mariam's father forces her int a marriage with a man that is 30 years older than her. She tries 7 times to have a child with her husband but each time she miscarries. The husband (Rasheed) becoming increasingly abusive to her.
Part Two is introduces Laila to the story. She is a girl growing up in Kabul. Laila develops a sexual relationship with her boyfriend Tariq. War with the Russians breaks out in Afghanistan at which the center piece of the battle is their hometown of Kabul. Tariq's family and Laila's family decide to leave the city due to the violence. As Laila's family is leaving a rocket hits their home and kills the parents and leaves Laila in critical condition. Eventually Laila is taken in by Rasheed and Mariam. While staying at the home and recovering Laila discovers that she is pregnant with Tariq's baby. Laila receives the news that Tariq has died and due to this sorrow she agrees to marry Rasheed in order to have a father for her child. When Laila gives birth to a daughter Rasheed becomes abusive to her. Joined by being married to Rasheed and his abuse the two women rapidly become close friends and plot to run away from their evil husband. They get caught running away and Rasheed beats them both severely.
Years advance and eventually Laila gives birth to Zalmai, Rasheed's son. Meanwhile the Taliban has risen to power they impose a very strict policies on the women in Kabul and at the same time there is a drought causing living conditions in Kabul to become poor.
Tariq was not actually killed and he eventually appears outside of Rasheed's house, and he and Laila are reunited. Rasheed finds out when Zalmai tells his father about the visitor. Rasheed beats Laila and almost kills her. Mariam comes to Laila's rescue and kills Rasheed with a shovel. Mariam confesses to spare Laila and Tariq and is executed, while Laila and Tariq leave for Pakistan with Aziza and Zalmai.
Eventually the Taliban are overthrown and at that time Laila and Tariq return to Afghanistan. They visit village where Mariam was raised, and discover a package that Mariam's father left behind for his daughter the package contains video of Pinocchio, the movie that her father had refused to take her to when she was 15. The package also contains a small pile of money and a letter. Laila reads the letter and discovers that Jalil regretted sending Mariam away. Laila and Tariq return to Kabul and fix up the orphanage, where Laila starts working as a teacher. Laila is pregnant with her third child, and if it is a girl, Laila has already named her Mariam.