One of the most compelling books I've read this past summer is A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini.
The story of Mariam, Laila, and Rasheed, the husband they shared, offers a glimpse of another culture, another way of ordering life, that illuminates both the things we have in common and the things that separate us.
We share a deep desire to love and to be loved; we share a fierce commitment to nurture and protect our children, even at our own expense.
We share a yearning for order, beauty, peace.
Yet the differences are profound. The structure of Afghan society creates built-in injustices, difficulties that war intensifies. Simple human cruelty becomes something monstrous under that stress.
This isn't an easy book to read; the story stays with me. It makes me realize how easy it is for me to live, to love. It makes me sad, and angry; it makes me want to know more, to understand more about the culture that shapes people's lives in these ways.
It's a story I won't forget.