Imagine living in the time of WWII or in Afghanistan, Egypt, or anywhere that large amounts of devastation has occurred. Imagine the lives they lead, how different they are than most of us in the United States.
Historical fiction writers have the capability to bring that to us, they give us the fear, longing, and horrors of the world. Yes the characters are fictionalized, and their experiences aren’t true, but they resemble the real life of those who have experienced those horrors.
In the Book Thief by Markus Zusak, shows that the main character is this little girl who watches her brother die on the train within the first few pages. She describes the way his whole body stopped moving, the way his lips turned blue and his eyes looked lifeless. She brings the reader into her life where her mother abandons her, leaving her with a family who will care for her because she no longer can.
This story takes place during WWII in Germany, it focuses on a different perspective when it comes to the horrors of WWII. This child brings us into her outlook of the war, how she has to behave and stay in her place, she doesn’t have the freedom to be the child that she is. Her family becomes a hiding place for one jewish man, he comes to them in the middle of the night and takes residence in their basement, never leaving the small area that he is. The little girl befriends this man, learning from him, confiding in him. He becomes a safety net for her, someone she can be friends with and trust. But, soon enough he is swept away from her.
The author goes into amazing detail about the life of this girl, what she sees, what she hears, everything surrounding her. It brings a whole different outlook to history.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, is set in Afghanistan with the main character Mariam bringing us into her small home, with her mother. Her father is a successful business man who visits her once a week, but she wants more, she wants to live with him and his three wives and children. However when she shows up to his door, she is ignored and left to sleep on the porch, all while her mother commits suicide. This forces Mariam to be in the custody of her father, who forces her into a marriage where she is physically and verbally abused.
In comes Lalia, a girl from down the street who agrees to marry Mariams husband. She is pregnant with her ex lovers child during the time of war and must be married off in order to survive.
Both Laila and Mariam bring the reader into a world so entirely different than their own. A world of war and devastation, bombings, forced marriages and unlikely mishaps. The love that each of these women receive is far greater than anything else, the ability to find comfort in each other, to be able to get through the terrors of their lives by each others side.
Both the Book Thief and A Thousand Splendid Suns, touches the readers heart, they grab a hold of your heart strings and tug on them almost to the point of breaking and then lets go. They express heart break, devastation, and hope. These books bring a lot more to the table than just a rendition of historical occurrences.