January 17, 2016
An unforgettable novel about finding a lost piece of yourself in someone else.
Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.
In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.
Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.
I have absolutely adored author Khaled Hosseini ever since reading his novel The Kite Runner. There’s something so unique and compelling when it comes to his storytelling. Just recently I finished A Thousand Splendid Suns, his second novel, and I’ve been very hesitant toward reading And The Mountains Echoed. What you need to understand is that I couldn’t imagine a world where the author could have possibly written something that could have surpassed A Thousand Splendid Suns. It just seemed unfathomable. Still, I gave And The Mountains Echoed a shot and, as fate would have it, I was right.
Beginning with the story of a boy named Abdullah, And The Mountains Echoed is centered around family. When Abdullah’s younger sister, Pari, is take from him when the two are still children, it changes everything. And as a result of this, the lives of the people related to Abdullah and Pari are affected. From their stepmother, to their step-uncle, to Pari’s new parentage, the actions of family members directly impact one another. And The Mountains Echoed works to prove this to the reader through varying stories detailing the lives of multiple characters.
One of the things that I have loved about Hosseini is the way that he weaves his characters’ stories. Before this, I couldn’t have been able to name a time when I didn’t end up invested in the protagonist. Typically, it was this investment into the character that made me fall in love with the story. There’s nothing better than picking up a novel and sitting on the edge of your seat as you try and find out what could possibly be in store for them. Both Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns nail that element, but And The Mountains Echoed, I found, was lacking it.
Throughout reading the novel, And The Mountains Echoed felt like an anthology, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Each chapter of the novel was told through a different character’s perspective. This offered new insight into the story and answered questions that arose earlier on in the novel. My main concern and issue when it came to all of these new, short stories, was the amount of telling versus showing that occurred.
Far too much of the novel was telling the reader about what happened to a character. Whereas in his previous works, Hosseini did a good deal of showing the reader what is happening to a character and how it impacted them, And The Mountains Echoed received the opposite treatment. There were paragraphs upon paragraphs of descriptions, each of them telling the reader about a character’s life and the tragedies that have taken place. Even some of these tragedies that have horribly affected the lives of certain characters lacked a sense of realism and, instead, just felt like shock value. It created a lot of emotional distance between the reader and the novel and, I think, heavily took away from the experience.
I would recommend And The Mountains Echoed to readers who are looking for a novel that’s very rigid in its storytelling. Any readers who want a novel that deals with family and the impacts that families exact on each other should also give it a read. If you’re a fan of Hosseini’s previous works and want to give it a shot, I would also suggest giving it go.