And the Mountains Echoed

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Alcoholism, abuse, and moral choices. Ain’t it grand?

Alcoholism, abuse, and moral choices. Ain’t it grand?

A novel talking about stuff

Article: Destiny Kaus – A&C Writer

Khaled Hosseini, the author of Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, kicks the literature world’s butt with his third novel And the Mountains Echoed. Though at some points the novel is confusing, Hosseini appeals to his readers’ curiosity and uniquely knits together the lives of various characters into a masterpiece story.

When I first started reading And the Mountains Echoed, I had a hard time figuring out who was who; this frustrated the heck out of me. The plot focuses on many Middle Eastern characters, so I found the story slightly hard to follow due to the vast array of characters.

The fact that the chapters are quite long does not help this situation. Within chapters, Hosseini switches topics and characters, which makes for heightened confusion. He also uses a sprinkling of Middle Eastern vocabulary. Instead of translating these words, I just skipped over them even though I had no clue what they meant, causing myself more grief. But, that’s my own dumb fault.

Ultimately, in my opinion, if one gets past the first couple chapters, everything will begin to make sense. Despite confusing issues with organization, this novel is a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Hosseini clutches readers’ curiosity by starting off the novel with a 13th century quote by Jalaluddin Rumi, which states, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoings and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” This quote alludes to what the story will ultimately discuss: moral complexities.

The subject matter pertaining to this theme is quite jarring. As the Mountains Echoed deals with heavy issues, such as selling children for profit, violence, divorce, alcoholism, suicide, physical disabilities, debilitating diseases, and much more. I think this book is so great because it has relevant subject matter that still relates to life today. It’s a great read if one wants to delve into a literary work to draw parallels between social issues in the past and social issues nowadays and emote right alongside the characters. They are two motherless siblings in Afghanistan, three-year-old Pari and her big brother Abdullah, uncles, aunts, cousins, and housekeepers.

These characters live in places such as Kabul, Paris, San Francisco, and the Greek Island of Tinos. All in all, Hosseini does a great job tugging at readers’ heartstrings as they get to know these characters. In many cases, my heart ripped apart when I read about the terrible tragedies (physical and emotional) that characters dealt with. This novel also lifted my spirit and made me smile when something good actually happened. The plot, always changing with twists and turns, sincerely grabs one’s attention. It made me want to keep reading!

Though Hosseini does leave certain loose ends untied, he still has a great book on his hands. I personally love stories that leave me hanging even though they torture me with “What ifs?”  I find it amazing how Hosseini meshes the lives of all his characters together in one way or another. He shows the extent of bonds between individuals and displays how moral choices can affect these bonds.

Image: Haley Klassen

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