Title: And the Mountains Echoed
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Genre: General Fiction
Opening lines: “…So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one… ‘
Blurb: Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and step-mother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Adbullah, Pari, as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named, is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their skulls touching, their limbs tangled. One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand. Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways that we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history, and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us
My Thoughts: I had AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED on pre-order as soon as I heard it was coming out because author Khaled Hosseini’s first two books were both ‘A’ reads for me. While it was a glorious book to read, AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED just missed the mark slightly for me compared to his previous two. This was mostly because there were just too many characters relating their stories to give either background to the events or propel the story along that I got confused.
The event at the start of AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED separated Abdullah and Pari and triggered the resulting convoluted story that followed. By convoluted I mean that Hosseini’s narrative sometimes seemed unconnected to the plight of Pari and Abdullah with neither of them appearing after their separation until much further on in the book. The different stories and events that follow occur in different time frames and countries and also fragmented between different characters and points of view. Some of the characters appeared briefly on the pages then were never seen again and once or twice a character’s connection to Pari and Abdullah was not always clear and left me wondering what the point of their appearance was; if there was a point then it wasn’t obvious to me. Frustratingly the opposite occurred but as their appearance was so brief I didn’t get a chance to know them very deeply even if I wanted to.
For example I really wanted to know more about Abdullah’s stepmother she seemed such a strong character and I wanted to know more about how she dealt with life after her choice – because it is the choices that she, and other characters, made that propelled the story forward or clarify an event.
“…At last, she makes her choice. She turns around, drops her head, and walks toward a horizon she cannot see. After that, she does not look back anymore. She knows that if she does, she will weaken…”
There is no doubt in mind that Khaled Hosseini is master wordsmith. The words he writes always manage to evoke emotions and images right from the very first page. Despite the fact that there were many characters who each in turn temporarily stood front and centre of the story. They related the conditions and circumstances they were living in so vividly that while I didn’t always get the connection to Pari or Abdullah I certainly understood their surroundings and how it impacted on the character at the time.
Throughout the book there is certainly a sense of loss, especially when we finally get to Pari, who was a very young child when separated from her brother. She has no memory of life before her adoption, but she does have a sense that something is missing, some memory that is elusive and she is searching for something but not sure what the search is:
“…The cities, the roads, the countryside, the people I meet – they all begin to blur. I tell myself I am searching for something. But more and more, it feels like I am wandering, waiting for something to happen to me, something that will change everything, something that my whole life has been leading up to….”
The search does end though, and I found that I was really sorry to get to the end. Because despite the jumping around and occasional confusion on my part it was a captivating and breathtaking story, a wonderful journey with a tear or two shed on a couple of occasions.
Will I recommend it? Absolutely!
Will I preorder his next book as soon as I hear about it? Absolutely
Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends.
For more about the author – Click Here