Book review: And the Mountains Echoed

Khaled Hosseini’s third book, And the Mountains Echoed, is another tearjerker filled with heartbreaking emotions and the theme of redemption. Hosseini rose to fame with the phenomenal success of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, which depicted the war-torn terrain of a wounded Afghanistan, and the fragile relationships between father and son, as well as mother and daughter.

The introductory chapter is the most powerful start to a heart-rending story, and leaves the reader racing through the pages in anticipation of how the characters will strive to achieve redemption. Set in rural Afghanistan of the 1950s, Hosseini immediately engrosses the reader through the narration of a folk tale about a farmer named Baba Ayub, whose son is kidnapped by a vicious demon.

Unlike The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, which followed the lives of a few central characters, And the Mountains Echoed is narrated by a new character in each chapter. Although this new style of experimenting with different characters may seem a bit complicated, Hosseini beautifully seams each chapter together into one coherent whole.

All the substories echo the central themes of the novel of loss and family betrayal. There’s the story of Parwana and her twin sister, filled with deep seated pathos and jealousy; the story of the narcissistic Nila Wahdati who dares to defy traditional Afghan values and flees off to Paris; the life of a boy, Adel, whose father steals the land of another family; and the relationship of a social worker with a woman whose face has been scarred brutally by a dog bite.

The different stories intersect with each other, and depict the many strands of human emotions across diverse cultures. Each story can stand on its own, but the way Hosseini connects them in his poignant style leaves one yearning for more.

Hosseini gives each character depth, and one can relate to each protagonist’s heartbreaks, failures and desire for atonement. The novel takes you on an exciting globetrotting journey as you start from Afghanistan and explore Greece, America and Paris through the eyes of a new and enigmatic persona. Even though most of the novel is centered in Europe and the United States, Afghanistan plays a central role in the hearts of all the characters. Much like his previous novels, Hosseini portrays how a person’s ties to their home country are never completely broken. Afghanistan keeps resonating in each character’s mind and echoes like a nostalgic yearning.

Although the book is undeniably captivating, Hosseini seems to be sticking to the same tedious formula that aims to tug at the heartstrings of his readers, through the tale of fractured relationships and the destruction of Afghanistan. In many ways, the book explores the same themes and relationship dynamics explored in his previous bestsellers. It’s almost as if the book is designed to be made into a movie, guaranteeing commercial success. Nevertheless, it will leave you teary-eyed and longing for more.


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