Monday, April 20, 2015

Nearly as Beautiful

And the Mountains Echoed 
By Khaled Hosseini
Genre: Adult Fiction 

"It begins with the heartbreaking, unparalleled bond between two motherless siblings in an Afghan village. To three-year-old Pari, big brother Abdullah is more mother than brother. To ten-year-old Abdullah, little Pari is his everything. What happens to them-and the large and small manners in which it echoes through the lives of so many other people-is proof of the moral complexity of life."

First, the likes. If you have read Hosseini's other novels, A Thousand Splendid Suns or The Kite Runner, you know something of Hosseini's beautiful, eloquent writing. His subtle similes, his vivid descriptions, and how he paints characters so that you can see and feel all of their life-joys and sorrows.

Despite that this novel was told from so many different perspectives, I got to know the characters intimately and each one seemed unique, with their own personalities.

I liked that Hosseini didn't dive into politics or religion (Islam) in this book, and splatter or even whisper his opinions to the reader, which would have been easy to do. Instead, he looks at relationships, stretches them, breaks them, and, in the end, makes them shine and sparkle even amidst pain and turmoil. This novel is primarily about what it means to be a human, to love, and to be separated from those you love. It is a beautiful book.

However, I believed And the Mountains Echoed was nearly, not quite, as beautiful as Hosseini's other novels. As I mentioned, this book is written from many different perspectives. This made the whole tale a bit disjointing and confusing. As you got to know one character/story well, Hosseini dragged you out of their head and into another character's head, who might not even know the previous character. So even though I was able to clearly picture the characters, I didn't really empathize with any of them, since I left them fairly quickly, and oftentimes didn't get to see how their story ended.

Also, this novel will definitely jerk on your heart strings. That's not a bad thing (if you like to cry), but it overall seemed too depressing to me. One of the themes seemed to be aging and death, which I don't like to swallow in large qualities. The ending was sad, but had some glimmers of hope. I didn't find it as hopeful as the endings in The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, although those books weren't oozing joy at the end either. The characters in this book just seemed to make less honorable/good choices, even though they weren't necessarily 'bad' choices. I just expected more of the characters, or for them to change more for the good.

For the above reasons, I give this book a 3 out of 5 and recommend it for 17 year olds and up due to its deep subject matter. It does have less grisly, violent scenes than the other two novels, so that was nice.

And, I have to say, I did enjoy visiting Afghanistan again. If you're longing to take experience another country without leaving the country, try this book. Also, I recommend reading either A Thousand Splendid Suns or The Kite Runner before reading And the Mountains Echoed, as it's easier to read.

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