Monday, January 27, 2014

AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED by Khaled Hosseini (fic)

Khaled Hosseini is best know for his popular book, The Kite Runner, which was made into a film.  His latest book is also an enjoyable read, and like the his two other novels, has as its theme the relationships between siblings, children and their parents, and the Afghan community.  Hosseini has set up this novel as a series of stories about a group of characters.  Each character's story could stand alone as a short story, but as the reader discovers, all the characters and their stories are connected in some way to the very first of the tales. Hosseini has said his title comes from a William Blake poem, "Nurse's Song: Innocence" about the hills echoing with the sound of childrens' voices. Ultimately this is the story of two children and what becomes of them in a time of upheaval in Afghanistan.

The first tale begins with the story of Abdullah a 10 year old boy from an impoverished family and his three year old sister, Pari.  It starts with a folk tale a father is telling his children as they journey on foot to Kabul.  This rural Afghan family is so poor, when the opportunity arises to "sell" Pari to a wealthy Kabul couple who wish to adopt her, the father sees it as the only way to help the rest of his family survive.  From that beginning, the novel continues with the differing pathways through life that Abdullah and Pari take.  Abdullah is never sure he will ever see his sister again, and Pari is unaware that she has another family or that she was even adopted.  She goes through her life with a vague sense that a piece of her is missing, a puzzle that she works hard to solve.  Pari's life is one of affluence, and she is eventually taken to Paris by her adoptive mother, Nila Wahadati who is a poet of some renown. Pari becomes a mathematician and marries and has three children.  Abdullah's life is one of poverty and resentment, fleeing with his family from their small village to Pakistan and finally to a hard-working life in California as a kabob house owner. He also marries and has one daughter whom he names Pari.

Other characters who have interesting lives and stories, and who will eventually cross paths with Pari and Abdullah take the reader to Greece, modern Afghanistan, France and the United States. Each character will affect Pari and Abdullah in a different way and move them along to the climax and ending of the novel.  While the novel has some unusual coincidences, all is not rosy and there are many moments that reflect the drama and disappointments of real life. 

Hosseini has created some wonderful characters in this novel and the reader will find he/she really cares about their fate.  There are also a couple of characters who seem to be just fillers and not so interesting. If you enjoyed Hosseini's previous novels, you are sure to enjoy this book as well.  He is an excellent story teller.

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