[Review] And the Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini

Title of Book: And the Mountains Echoed
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Year: 2014
Language: English
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 446

So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one...Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari - as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named - is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their heads touching, their limbs tangled. One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand. Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways in which we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.


Abdullah loves his younger sister Pari more than anything in this world. Ever since their mother died giving birth to Pari, Abdullah has been taking care of her. One day, Abdullah, Pari, and their father, Saboor, were going to visit their uncle Nabi who worked as a chauffeur for a rich married couple in Kabul. As they walked through the desert, their father told them a tale about a father who made a deal with the devil. Little did Abdullah know that this tale is his father’s way of preparing him for the change coming to their lives.

And the Mountains Echoed opens with the story of Abdullah and his family. Abdullah comes from a poor family living in a village called Shadbagh. His step mother is pregnant. With baby on the way, his father was trying the best he could to feed the family. Especially after what happened last winter, when the youngest son died because of the cold. So Saboor made an agreement with Nabi's employer to sell Pari hoping that Pari would have a better life and the assurance of his family survival back in Shadbagh. Saboor's bedtime story foreshadows his decision to sell Pari. When the bedtime story was told, I was wondering if the story means anything to the characters in this book. By the time I realized what was going on, I couldn't help but root for the characters hoping they would reunite in the end. Primarily because of Abdullah's strong connection to Pari. He went out of his way to trade his shoes for a feather to add to Pari's collection. That shows how much devotion he has for his little sister.

Saboor's bedtime story questions whether memory could be a gift or a curse. This reflects what happened with Abdullah and Pari later in the book. Abdullah remembered his sister even after he grew up and moved to the States. Abdullah bore the pain of losing his sister until he grew old and suffered from dementia. Meanwhile, Pari was too young to remember about her family. One would think that Pari was spared of this pain because she didn't remember Abdullah. But Pari always felt a hollow in her heart, like something was missing in her life. 

Then the story branches off to other people connected to Abdullah's family. There are Uncle Nabi, the rich couple Suleiman and Nila Wahdati, Abdullah’s step mother Parwana and her sister Masooma,Cousins Idris and Timur who lived across of Suleiman and Nila, and the Greek doctor who lived in Suleiman and Nila’s house in Afghanistan later. Each has their own dilemma and complications that sometimes mirror one another. They have to make a sacrifice and difficult decisions which could affect other people.  For example, Saboor who chose to sell Pari, Parwana chose to leave her sister Masooma, Idris and Timur who made a decision whether or not they would save Roshi the injured girl. They did things that considered as bad for the greater good which blurs the line between good and bad. Is good intention enough to create good deeds?

Unlike Hosseini’s two other books, and the Mountains Echoed is not exclusively about Afghanistan. Instead, he focused on the characters and how their stories are universal. It could happen to anyone in the world, which is also why I guess he kind of took us around the world this time. The setting changes from Afghanistan to France, Greece, and USA.

All in all, it was an excellent read. Although I prefer A Thousand Splendid Suns to this one, and the Mountains Echoed is still a powerful read to consider picking up.

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