“Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.”
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Summary: Pari and Abdullah are as close as siblings can be. Abdullah loves his sister so much, she is almost his daughter. So when the powers that be tear them apart, both of their lives are irrevocably changed. Years down the road we meet friends, doctors, chauffeurs, people whose lives are changed through this one event. What unfolds is a story that crosses oceans, teaching us what it means to love and care.
Review: Another hit from Khaled Hosseini! Truly, this man knows how to weave a story. And the Mountains Echoed is a less brutal novel than Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns, but the story is no less meaningful nor less heartbreaking. Each chapter is written from the POV from a different character, and one chapter actually has two different POVs intertwined. Each POV is a different character’s journey, but they are all related to each other.
Unlike the other two novels, this book does not center around regional conflicts. Hosseini delicately tells us stories of individuals who are going through real life journeys. They love, they die. They acquire dream jobs, and real life illnesses. The story is about individuals and how they relate to one another. Sure, the Taliban and the Russians are mentioned but only as a part of the setting. And since the story takes place in four different countries, we see a vast array of settings that help give more richness to the story.
One of the major themes of this novel is appearance vs. reality. The beautiful are empty, the morally repugnant are heroes. What may seem like a good idea at the time is actually the worst idea. The characters are also morally ambiguous, much like the main character in Kite Runner. One of the strength’s of Hosseini is he sneaks characters into our hearts so that we may begin to understand their bad and ugly choices. You cannot hate the characters because they are only human.
Hosseini does a fantastic job creating unique voices for each of the POVs. Dare I say, even better than GRRM? The storytelling style even changes, from how a father tells his son a bedtime story, to how a woman gives an interview. It’s quite remarkable.
One little issue I had was Idris’ chapter. Although touching, it had little to do with the larger story. Even Markos’ chapter fit. But Idris’ chapter wasn’t quite like the rest; it fit lyrically, but not contextually. I cannot say more without giving the plot away.
We already know Hosseini knows how to tell a story. But he has surprised us yet again by showing us that not only can he write one story, but he can create a novel quilted from the stories of nine different characters. Of course, my recommendation is READ!
Violence: None, although mentioned peripherally.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars