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And The Mountains Echoed - Book Review

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by Happy Mom (subscribe)
I am a world traveller & a mom of two, (8 & 6). I love to meet people, and am fascinated that there are 7 billion stories out there to be explored. I think Melbourne is the most happening city to live in with all the fun activities around town.
Published July 30th 2013
Have you ever wondered 'what if'?
Khalid Hosseini has been given the titles "weaver of tales", "crafter of stories" and "evoker of Images". Indeed he is, and so proves his third achievement in terms of books published called And the Mountains Echoed. I had already read the previous two titles, and was looking forward to reading this new one, so much so that I finished the book in three days once I started.

(Image taken from Khalid Hosseini's offical website

A little about the author: Hosseini was born in Afghanistan in 1965 in the house of a diplomat in the Afghan Foreign Ministry. Due to the devastating situation in their country in the early 80s, the family sought political asylum in the US. He now lives in Northern California and is a practicing medical doctor. He is also a Goodwill Envoy to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. He has a humanitarian assistance program to help people in his homeland.

And The Mountains Echoed came out in May 2013. The style of writing in this book is significantly different not only to his previous books but in comparison to other novels as well. It is not a linear narration by a single narrator. In fact, it is a compilation of short stories narrated by different characters whose lives have crossed each other's paths at different times and have diverted the course of life from the point of encounter onwards.

As is expected from the author, the book holds your heart wrenched in its emotional grip. It begins with a story being told by a father to his two children, but really the audience for the story is the reader, who must evaluate the actions of the main character of this story within the story and assess the decisions made against the backdrop of the reader's own set of moral and ethics. The question looms in the reader's mind "What would I have done in the situation?"

This story in a few words is as follows: an "ogre" kidnaps the youngest and most beloved child of a poor villager, who is unable to forget his child and sets off on an impossible journey to confront the ogre and get his child back. But when he finally reaches the ogre's country, he sees that his child has a bright and happy future in his new home and therefore leaves him behind. The ogre gifts him with a pill that makes him forget his child, but there is a gaping hole in his life that can never be filled.

Within the next few pages, the reader finds out that the two children who this story is being told to are brother and sister, Abdullah and Pari, who adore each other. However, they are separated when Pari is sold to a rich couple living in the big city who are unable to bear a child of their own. From this point onwards, nine different characters narrate their life stories spanning over 50 years and three different continents. The turning of the pages reveals the answer to the burning question piece by piece: will Abdullah and Pari be reunited?

At some points I felt that the story was side-tracked with superfluous information, but I also found the author always had a message up his sleeve if the reader chooses to read on. The way the author writes is almost as if he paints a picture in the mind of the reader. Even the title, And the Mountains Echoed, is poetic and evokes a sense of nostalgia, perhaps of beauty with all its imperfections, and maybe a sense of the vastness of the world and insignificance (or may significance) of one individual life in it.

As is always the case with a book, it speaks differently to different people. However, I would not shy away from suggesting this book for a good, easy read, a book that will be difficult to forget.
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