I’ve been a fan of Khaled Hosseini’s work since high school, where my English teacher introduced me to A Thousand Splendid Suns. It was unlike anything I’d read before. I went on to read The Kite Runner and became enchanted by the world that exists within Afghanistan, a country of which I had only heard about in war-related news. By some stroke of luck (!!!) I was fortunate enough to win a special meet-and-greet with Mr. Hosseini in the green room thanks to Cammy at Indigo Events. I can’t describe to you how over the moon I was! The whole experience was surreal. As winner, I was allowed to take a guest along so I chose one of my best friends who happens to be an even bigger fan of his. It turned out to be an overall spectacular day.
Before the event began, my friend and I were treated to front row reserved seats and a fun V.I.P experience. We were led to the back where we met Mr. Hosseini. He was every bit as gracious and kind as I’d imagined him to be. He asked me about myself, my background, and where I currently lived. He wanted to know what I had written as my contest entry (the question was “Why is Khaled Hosseini your favourite author”) so I told him that I felt his writing and characters were real and grounding. So much so, that they make me feel grateful for everything that I have in my own life. I think one of the best feelings a book can give you is a greater sense of clarity, conviction, and gratitude 🙂
Now on to the book review!
Summary: The story starts off with a story. Abdullah and his little sister Pari are listening to their father as he tells them a tale about the div, a being who travels from village to village choosing families from whom he will take a child. The family must decide which child they are going to give up and if they don’t make a decision, the div kills all their children. This powerful fable foreshadows the events of the book as Pari’s father gives her away to a wealthy couple. Abdullah is torn. After their mother died giving birth to Pari, he has always been the one to care for her and her absence leaves him hollow. From that life-changing point in their lives, Pari and Abdullah’s journeys unravel, stretching across the years from Afghanistan to Paris to America, being told by the voices of several people in their lives. And the Mountains Echoed is a heart-breaking story about how the consequences of a single act can leave scars that resonate across generations. It touches on love and pain, responsibility and sacrifice, and ultimately the power of family.
Favourite Quote: I suspect the truth is that we are waiting, all of us, against insurmountable odds, for something extraordinary to happen to us.
Review: I loved the beginning of this novel. The story of the div was intriguing and sucked me in as soon as I started. I’m glad Mr. Hosseini chose this fable to introduce us to Abdullah and Pari because it truly captures the essence and power of Abdullah’s love for his sister. It was easy to relate back to the fable further along in the book and understand the intensity of Abdullah’s pain. One thing you’ll find is that this book does not focus on Afghanistan as much as in The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. If that is something you’re looking forward to, you will not be satisfied. However, the redeeming quality is that And the Mountains Echoed explores emotions and familial relations to a great depth which was something I thought was different and really enjoyed.
I can’t deny Khaled Hosseini’s writing skills. Everything was poetic and emotional so definitely expect some tears. He has a great talent of weaving stories and lives to show you how interconnected we all are and that each action affects not only yourself, but all those around you and beyond. Another aspect of the book that sets it apart from his previous novels is that each chapter takes place at a different time period and is told from a different viewpoint. I think my favourite was the chapter devoted solely to a letter written by Navi, the chauffeur step-uncle of Abdullah and Pari. I enjoyed how bits and pieces of the story came together through the voices of different people. Speaking of characters, I fell for each of them in different ways. Pari’s innocence, Abdullah’s hope, Navi’s loyalty and Nila’s eccentricity made them excruciatingly real and endearing.
Some negative points for me were that the story felt like it dragged on a bit at times. Also, there were some story arcs of minor characters that I felt were unnecessary against the overall plotline (the story of the Bashiri cousins is left incomplete!!). But despite all that I did enjoy reading And the Mountains Echoed. It was not up to par with the drama of Khaled Hosseini’s previous works, but it was good in a completely different way. Don’t expect all the loose ends to tie up perfectly in the end because this book is far from picture perfect and that’s what makes it a good read. We need books like these sometimes to remind us of harsh realities and untold truths, for us to realize that there are ways to make peace with all the turmoil you endure.
Reviewer’s Rating: 3.5/5
Published: May 2013 by Riverhead
Genre: Contemporary fiction
You should also read: The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini), A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini), A Walk Across the Sun (Corban Addison)