I think for the first time, this book shows how beautiful the Middle East can be and how its citizens are just as human and real as anyone else in the world. The storyline is absolutely mesmerizing; my only critique is that there is such a startling disconnect between parts one and two that I was too busy worrying about Mariam to really enjoy the beginning of Laila’s story. I love that Hosseini has such a distinct, gorgeous style. His prose reads like effortless poetry, not very different from the poets he quotes and references, from Rumi to Saeb-e-Tabrizi, reminding us that good literature is universal but doesn’t sacrifice more local culture. I definitely enjoyed this one more than The Kite Runner, but that’s purely because this one is more optimistic and romantic and less heartbreaking and devastating – both novels are stunning and Hosseini is one author whom I would love love love to meet someday.