Sunday, June 16, 2013

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

I completely swore off my no purchasing of new hardcover books promise to get my hands on a copy of Khaled Hosseini’s new novel.  Of course, I have been a huge fan of The Kite Runner – teaching it for the last 6 years or so of AP English – and its sister novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns.  Of course, when your expectations are that high, you run the risk of being disappointed.  As soon as I finished the lovely, spell-binding opening parable, a presumed bedtime story told by a father to his son and daughter, Abdullah and Pari, I knew the author’s poetic style would still hold me in rapture.  I read the whole book in a few days, and hesitated to see it end, although the first half of the book is the best, by far.  Each chapter reads like a novella.  I found it hard to put a chapter down once I started, partly because the chapters jump so drastically in time and setting – Afghanistan, San Francisco, Paris and Greece.  Although the brother and sister of the opening chapter knit the whole book together, there are almost too many peripheral characters and I sometimes had a difficult time remembering who was who or how they figured into the whole.  Without criticizing the mechanics of the novel, which were sometimes clunkier than Hosseini’s previous two, I would highlight the positives.  This book has little of the violence and heart-break of the other novels.  Yes – it is sad and I had tears in my eyes more than once, but this is a redemptive sibling story.  It is about loss and separation – and of course the ravishing effects of war.  But is isn’t the gut wrenching sort of story that was Amir’s or Mariam and Laila’s.  The book encompasses a long stretch of time, generations of tragedy and recovery, and in the end, it sang of hope.

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