And The Mountains Echoed Book Review

The HapaMama Summer Reading 2013 Series is back this week, with a look at one of this year’s hottest books.

MountainsEchoed

 

Khaled Hosseini’s new novel And The Mountains Echoed is one of the books everyone is reading this summer. And for good reason. Hosseini’s latest novel takes us back to 1950s Afghanistan and to the suburbs of Silicon Valley, stopping in France and Greece along the way. Hosseini’s  The Kite Runner was one of those books I couldn’t put down and couldn’t stop thinking about, and his latest work doesn’t disappoint. Like his previous novels,  And The Mountains Echoed focuses on a personal relationship, that between a brother and sister, Abdullah and Pari, who are separated under heartbreaking circumstances a few chapters into the book. Perhaps because Abdullah and Pari’s life paths diverge so much, this novel is much looser in form, at times reading more like a series of linked vignettes peeking into the lives of the main characters and those around them. Readers who like a more linear story may wonder where’s the plot, but I really enjoy this more character-based style of writing. There is just one chapter, a horribly graphic look at the childhood of one of the minor characters, that was just too much and only tangentially relevant to the rest of the book, that I didn’t enjoy.

The end of life and the question of who is to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves are recurring themes, as is the concept of migration and how a person can be changed — or not — by the place where they live. I’ve always liked the way Hosseini’s stories feel like parables, making politics, history and universal human struggles come to life through his characters.

Like myself, Hosseini lives in the Silicon Valley, and the juxtaposition between the scenes in the Middle East and Europe with the banality of strip malls and shish kebab joints is both jarring and a reminder that we are all connected. And the mentions of some of my childhood stomping grounds, such as Oakridge Mall and Kelley Park, made me love this book even more.

Have you read any Khaled Hosseini’s books? Do you plan to read And The Mountains Echoed? Tell me what you think of it!


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