TITLE: And The Mountains Echoed
AUTHOR: Khaled Hosseini
GENRE: Adult, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
RATING: 4/5 Stars
'So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one...'
Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari - as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named - is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their heads touching, their limbs tangled.
One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand.
What I Liked:
- I adored Hosseini's writing, as I thought I would. He's a masterful storyteller, unfolding the plot with detailed snapshot of the lives of different people and how they are affected by Abdullah and Pari's journey, and the house that they are all connected by. It certainly made for very complex character building.
- I loved the well-established sense of place and time period in each chapter too. It was good to get a bit of a snapshot into the lives of people from another country and culture elsewhere. The middle-east is a setting I rarely read about, so that was a nice change!
What I Disliked:
- The ending was a little bittersweet. I knew I wouldn't get a happy one, but I also felt that the story didn't really lead anywhere, and so it felt a bit vague. Despite the story being sold as a painful separation between Abdullah and Pari, this is not really their story or pain. More like everyone else's.
I liked this a lot, and it certainly paced itself well with lots of interesting plot arcs that were loosely connected. I loved that it started with a fairy tale that set the whole tone for the story too! I think I was a little disappointed that the book seemed to build for no real reason, as this is just a generational snapshot rather than a definitive end. Still - an enjoyable read and I'll certainly consider more of Hosseini's books.