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Family, Time and Love,
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This review is from: And the Mountains Echoed (Kindle Edition)
Khaled Hosseini has gone from strength to strength with each novel he has written since his luminous debut "The Kite Runner". While that book moved me with the haunting story of the consequences of a childhood betrayal, I felt that the writing did not match up to the brilliance of the story. I felt much the same way with his second novel about mothers and daughters, "A Thousand Splendid Suns", but it is this novel, his third, that I felt that his writing reached a new pinnacle.
His storytelling style hasn't changed per se - it still flits from character to character across the continents, from Afganistan, to Paris, to a little Greek island Tinos, and even San Francisco, and even timelines that stretch from the 1940s to the 2010s. Needless to say, add to that the non-linear narrative, it can be confusing at times. However I find that sometimes it is easier to be wholly immersed in each character's story and figure out the connections later, because it does become clear along the way. And to Hosseini's credit, each story frame is self-contained enough for the reader to be captivated and enthralled. Oftentimes, I found myself hankering for more of a particular character's story when the chapter closes and the story picks up elsewhere. Hosseini has managed to reel me in and make me care about each set of characters, and it is testament to Hosseini's craft at creating memorable characters, that this reader feels a pang of sadness when the story moves on.
At the heart of it, the novel is a story about the bond between a young brother-and-sister pair, Abdullah, 10, and Pari, 3, from a small Afghan village, whose lives take a sharp turn when their father takes them to the big city of Kabul. The pair is separated, but Abdullah, who has been more a parent than his own stepmother was to Pari, is left with an emptiness that is too large to fill: "Pari hovered, unbidden, at the edge of Abdullah's vision everywhere he went. She was like the dust that clung to his shirt. She was in the silences that had become so frequent at the house, silences that welled up between their words, sometimes pregnant with things that went unsaid, like a cloud filled with rain that never fell." Altogether too much to bear for a child.
Elsewhere in the novel there are tales of unexpected love, the irreconcilable contradiction that is the relationship between a parent and a child, and the triumphs and inexplicable tragedies that hit ordinary people in everyday life, sometimes so emotionally draining they would run the risk of cheap sentimentality in the hands of a less able author. From the myriad narrative threads, Hosseini manages to weave them into an astonishing conclusion, which is both redemptive and poignant.