Thursday, August 1, 2013

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed

I was thrilled to get my hands on Khaled Hosseini's newest novel last week. I loved The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns in the way that one can love incredibly sad books. Hosseini's third novel does not disappoint. This is the kind of book that, when I at last finished and put it down, I just sat on the couch thinking about it, remembering characters and stories and how they all tied together.

This incredible novel follows many paths, characters wind in and out, sometimes barely linked but always going back to the theme of family, home, sacrifice, loss, and redemption. The novel starts with Pari and her big brother Abdullah on a journey with their father. The siblings have an unusually strong bond, and an early twist in the novel leaves the reader feeling the sting of their separation.

From there, the stories follow various characters who are somehow linked to Pari and Abdullah, and we return to Pari and Abdullah several times as well. These are characters who make both terrible and wonderful choices, who struggle and fail—or succeed, who find love or lose love, who find a place to call home or lose home, who break bonds and sometimes forge new, stronger ones. Hosseini is a master storyteller, a poet, an artist of the finest degree. I could have read 800 more pages of this novel if Hosseini had written them and never tired of the stories. And yet I was completely satisfied when I finished, even though not all the endings were happy by far.

As with Hosseini's other novels, much of the narrative takes place in Kabul, but the setting isn't as critical to this novel. Still, the Afghanistan landscape and culture, its poverty and violence, play significantly into most of the stories. This novel is full of loss but it's much less tragic than the other two novels. Highly recommended.