Character List and Analysis
Laila, the second female protagonist, is the youngest child and only daughter of Hakim and Fariba. The absence of both of Laila's older brothers, who have gone to war, makes her mature for her age and fills her with a sense of purpose. Laila has a strong desire to use her intelligence and education to improve the world around her. At age 15, Laila falls in love with her best friend since childhood, Tariq, but war forces Tariq and his parents to flee to Pakistan. Days later, a rocket kills Laila's parents and wounds her, and Rasheed and Mariam nurse her back to health. Laila's idealism and independence are challenged when she decides to marry Rasheed in order to give her unborn child by Tariq a father. Upon becoming a mother, Laila puts her children first and finds she is willing to accept limitations she once would have openly mocked. Through her growing relationship with Mariam, Laila not only takes comfort in having a friend and mother figure, but also begins to understand the sacrifices that are necessary to be a good mother by following Mariam's example.