Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Khaled Housseini - And the Mountains Echoed

So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one...
Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live in the small village of Shadbagh. 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 skulls 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.

Comment: I was given this book for Christmas and because gifts are always special I'll try from now on to read books given as gifts as soon as I can. I was also very interested in this book because I really loved the other one I've read by this author and was curious to see how similar the writing was or if a different plot would have any influence in it.

In this book, the author introduces us to a cast of characters that, in one way or another, show us the most beautiful aspects - and some of the worst ones - of the human being.
The focus starts with Abdullah and his younger sister Pari and how, from their life of poverty but shared love and devotion, their lives change after an action meant to be good. From that point on, everyone more or less related or connected to them and even those just close in space also have their existences impacted by something else.
This is a story that let us wonder what it means to let one person go in order to save everyone and how that affects everyone forever.

Like the previous book I've read by the author, this is another emotional journey into the lives of people in Afghanistan and how everyone suffered somehow when the Taliban came and changed everything.
This book is different, however, because it doesn't follow one single character as the focus point. It starts with the brother and sister and their life but soon the story branches out to several characters related to them for some reason... I have to say I liked this style, it offered many possibilities in terms of human interaction and how people are truly influenced by their surroundings, no matter where and how they are born.

What's not missing here is the emotion and the expected sensitive writing style the author has. Every single word seems to come from a dream and I simply can imagine a voice from Afghanistan, slowly and almost dreamlike telling these tales and how much feel is in each one. Obviously, the purpose is for the reader to feel things, to put oneself in the character's position but there are things difficult to imagine in our occidental lives, we live with too much focus in out problems, our jobs, our material needs to even wonder about what it must be like. One of the characters is a clear example of this, actually.

The plot isn't too complicated. It starts with Abdullah and Pari, then goes on to their stepmother, then their uncle, then their uncle's boss and so on until there's a huge cast but all of them connected to the first ones somehow. We are told about their lives, the challenges they face, the little things they pay attention, the things they do... some of them seem so... strong that I couldn't help but imagining those people's suffering and how time went by and some things they couldn't change nor improve were still a tattoo on their hearts and minds. 
I think this constant change in POV is good but the truth is it doesn't allow as much room to develop everyone's personality as it happened with the protagonist from the other book I've read. 

My favorite thing about the book is how much we learn about all types of people you can find and how perspective is everything. We rarely put ourselves in someone else's shoes, we have no idea of what is going though their minds, good or bad. But in this story we could follow several characters, their daily lives, their positions in life, what happens when one thing changes everything or when it doesn't and just to think the person you are talking too has so much depth and we just don't know about it... this awareness all those people who suffer have something to tell and we might now know... for me, this is the true validity and strength of this story. Some characters are more easily forgotten, but there is a couple I can't forget, especially when we learn,a s time goes by, of what happened to them, how they lived their lives until the end... it's have feelings and any regret, no matter what we tell ourselves.
Grade: 8/10

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