Monday, September 2, 2013
And the Mountains Echoed Review
I read The Kite Runner ages ago and really loved it. I've meant to read A Thousand Splendid Suns for a long time and never got around to it, but I spotted Hosseini's newest novel, And the Mountains Echoed on the list of summer reading books at my new school. They offered a bunch of fiction and non-fiction choices and part of my opening meetings tomorrow include a book discussion. I sort of waited until the last minute to pick this up but fortunately I finished over the weekend, just in time for the discussion.
And the Mountains Echoed is lovely and heartbreaking in a million different ways. The story begins with a simple fairy tale that a father tells to his young children. However, hidden within that simple story is the devastating choice the father has had to make. Impoverished and with a new (pregnant) wife to support, the father decides to sell his daughter to a wealthy couple who are unable to have their own child. Young Pari is only 3 or so when she is sold, but her brother, Abdullah, is seven years older and is devastated by the loss of his sister.
And the Mountains Echoed deals with the ramifications of the father's decision. Each chapter follows a different character in a series of interlocking stories as we learn what happened to Abdullah and Pari throughout their lives. The stories span from the 1930s through 2010 and from Afghanistan to Europe to the US. One of the earliest chapters follows Nabi, Pari's step-uncle, the chauffeur for the wealthy couple who at the end of his life writes a letter explaining his actions and the consequences. Another chapter follows Pari throughout her life in France. Yet another deals with a plastic surgeon who is connected to the house where Pari lived in Kabul.
It isn't always obvious how these stories are connected. The one about the plastic surgeon in Greece is probably the least connected but each chapter serves to explain something about Pari and Abdullah's life at some point or another from what happened to the town where they were born to how their father ended up with his second wife.
Most of the chapters except the last two are told in third person but then the narrative switches to first person, which is interesting. Additionally, Hosseini does an excellent job of giving each character a unique voice. Most of the chapters are quite long but the plot winds together nicely leading to a bittersweet but wholly satisfying ending.
I think I'm going to have to read A Thousand Splendid Suns ASAP as I really loved this book. It's definitely worth the read.
NY Times Review
Buy it at amazon and Barnes & Noble