How does the relationship between Mariam and Laila change throughout the novel?

When Laila first arrives in her home injured and orphaned, Mariam begrudgingly takes care of her at Rasheed’s request and becomes even more incensed when she becomes his second wife. Mariam perceives Laila as a threat, and Laila initially views her as the primary source of antagonism in their home. As violence grows in Kabul and Rasheed turns on them both, however, Mariam and Laila become a support system for one another. They develop a loving, trusting relationship that allows them to endure and eventually stand up to the daily abuse they face. Mariam ultimately gives her life so that Laila can escape Kabul to raise her children with Tariq, a noble sacrifice that illuminates the strength of their love for one another.

What happens to Tariq after he leaves Kabul?

Tariq leaves Kabul with his family and heads to Pakistan in Chapter 25, and in Chapter 28, a stranger comes to tell Laila that Tariq died after an attack he experienced on his way to Peshawar. Nine years after Tariq’s initial departure from Kabul, however, he appears on Laila’s doorstep. He explains that his family stayed at the Nasir Bagh refugee camp, and after his father died, he vowed to earn money to care for his mother. Eventually arrested, Tariq spent seven years in prison before making a life for himself as a handyman at a hotel in Murree.

Why does Laila want to return to Kabul at the end of the novel?

After Laila and Tariq settle into their new life together in Murree, Laila reveals that she wants to move back to Kabul in order to support her homeland as Afghanis attempt to rebuild in the aftermath of Massoud’s death and Osama bin Laden’s attack on the United States. She thinks back to her father’s belief that she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to, and this memory inspires her to renovate and teach at the orphanage where Aziza had lived years before. Laila honors both her parents and Mariam by pursuing a life of service which uplifts her community.