It’s a funny thing… but people mostly have it backward. They think they live by what they want. But really, what guides them is what they’re afraid of. What they don’t want.
― Khaled Hosseini in “And the Mountains Echoed”
And the Mountains Echoed has been one of the most awaited books of the year and being a fan of this author, one of the most admired authors in recent times, I was delighted to finally get my hands on it. And the book did not disappoint me.
The story is set in the Afghanistan of the 1940s. It begins with a poor father telling his two little children the tale of a demon who terrorized the villagers by offering them a terrible choice: either they must freely offer him one kid from each family as a sacrifice, or he would kill all the children in every family. The father tries to explain to his children, one of the villagers’ dilemma of deciding which kid to give up so as to save the rest, but little do the children realize the deeper intentions behind the story. So begins a journey of a brother and sister, Abdullah and Pari, who are separated at a young age.
This book is quite different from the rest of Hosseini’s books in a way in which the story centers not just on the main characters but on many characters and their stories, which are beautifully linked to give us a great read. You’ll meet and hear the stories of the main characters, their friends, their sisters and brothers, their mothers and wives and so many more. The trademark touches of Hosseini’s writing like the feather loving Pari and her wheel barrow, the heavily scarred Thalia with her handmade camera, the jealous sister, a superficial mom and poet’s interview etc. gives you a reassuring and comforting thought of familiarity and eases your wary mind off any apprehensions that you would carry about the book.
The author’s previous books showcase his style of writing, which is similar to an artist painting a picture in front of your eyes – vivid and rich. Khaled Hosseini retains this style of building a world around his reader, and manages to make you witness these lives and their emotions and stirs your own. That heart breaking scene when the sister is taken away from her brother succeeds in making you sad and that interview of Nila Wahdati truly makes you dislike her. But I did feel that a few of the stories seemed unnecessary and a bit of a drag. All of the characters are linked but I felt that the author fails to add in more substance to the stories of the main characters, Pari and Abdullah, and their relationship. And this is where I feel, the author missed his mark when compared to his other books.
On the whole, the author takes you through a tumultuous journey of love and kindness, selfishness and greed, sincerity and companionship, and makes you feel for each and every character and leaves an ever lasting impression of “What if it had happened to me” in your mind. Add this to your “must-read” list!