Khaled Hosseini’s newest offering, And The Mountains Echoed, is flying off the shelves at the Kansas City Public Library. Is this because the author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns has created yet another haunting literary masterpiece that you won’t be able to stop reading?
After two international megahits, with The Kite Runner spending more than a hundred weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and A Thousand Splendid Suns debuting at #1, Hosseini’s And The Mountains Echoed is being greeted with high expectations from readers and critics alike.
So how does And The Mountains Echoed, a sweeping novel about family and humanity, rate? The honest answer is somewhere in the middle.
The story begins with Saboor, a poor Afghani farmer from the remote town of Shadbagh, taking his ten-year-old son, Abdullah, and three-year-old daughter, Pari, on a mysterious trip to Kabul to visit their Uncle Nabi, who works for a wealthy gentleman.
Since the loss of their mother, Abdullah has become Pari’s main caregiver, and the two children are never apart. Abdullah is curious about their trip, but not necessarily frightened. However, the closer they get to Kabul, the more ominous the journey feels — and for good reason. The two motherless siblings are about to be separated, quite possibly for life.
From there, the book digs in and not only unfolds the fate of Abdullah and Pari, but the touching and occasionally unexpected destinies of generations of their extended family. The power of sibling bonds along with morality, betrayal, honor and sacrifice reverberate off every page as major themes.
And The Mountains Echoed does give us many recognizable Hosseini writing trademarks with the crux of the novel happening in Afghanistan. The storytelling is solid, the characters are haunting, and the plot tugs at your emotions.
What’s different about And The Mountains Echoed is that it feels so much more layered than Hosseini’s prior works — sometimes to the point that the narrative fights itself. Overall, it tries too hard to present itself as an “epic saga” rather than letting go and allowing the effortless beauty of Hosseini’s words guide the reader naturally.
Also, the novel feels a bit splintered. So many characters and secondary plots are introduced during various time periods and in different settings throughout the chapters, that the reader has to consciously stop during several points and think — just to keep everything straight. Unfortunately, these interruptions do take some of the emotional punch out of the plot.
Eventually, Hosseini does bring all the different elements together in And The Mountains Echoed — like an intricately woven spider web. The reader learns the fate of the characters and finally understands how everything and everyone threads together, but even so, this complex story leaves your mind and emotions feeling a bit tangled at the end.
As for the title for the book, And The Mountains Echoed is partly derived from William Blake’s poem, Nurse's Song (Innocence), with an opening stanza that reads:
When voices of children are heard on the green
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast
And everything else is still
Have you read And The Mountains Echoed yet? If so, leave a comment and let other readers know your thoughts about the book, or if you would like to reserve a copy and have it delivered to your closest Kansas City Public Library branch, simply place a hold on the item through our online catalog.
About the Author
Amy Morris is a librarian technical assistant at the Westport Branch. She earned a B.A. in English, with an emphasis in creative writing, from Avila University. Besides reading and writing, Amy enjoys traveling, art, being creative, and spending time with her family. She also writes her own blog at livingkansascity.blogspot.com