The story is set in Afghanistan from the early 1960s to the early 2000s. In 402 pages, the author tells us a part of the history of the country through a fiction involving the intersection of the lives of two women: Mariam and Leila.
Mariam, the illegitimate daughter of a very successful businessman in Herat, lives on the outskirts of the small town with her mother Nana. As the plot develops her life turns into a nightmare. In the quest of living with her other brothers and sisters she loses her mother. She is forced to marry an old man and to move to Kabul where her life intertwines with the life of another woman Leila.
We discover Leila as a young ambitious girl living in a liberal family. She is enjoying life and having big dreams. But that does not last for a long time. Her more or less quite life is affected by the political situation in Afghanistan. The life of school, her quiet life with her parents, and her love story with a one legged boy from the neighborhood becomes from the past as the war bursts out.
Born a generation apart, Mariam and Leila are two Afghan women who share together the horrors of war, loss and fate. They endure together the escalating violence and dangers surrounding them in the city of Kabul. They progressively become united and are supporting each other.
The story is very captivating. A part of the history of Afghanistan is drawn in a very skillful manner. The lessons to be kept in mind are so numerous. But the biggest lesson is that love is often the key to survival.