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And the Mountains Echoed by  Khaled Hosseini

I think it’s only fair that I begin this review with a not-so-surprising declaration that I am a big fan of Khaled Hosseini’s  books . Till date I have not been able to decide which out of his two earlier masterpieces  I love more – The Kite runner or  A Thousand Splendid Suns  (Most times I lean a little bit more towards A Thousand Splendid Suns ) . So despite warnings in many reviews that his 3rd book did not quite live up to the high standards set by its predecessors, I still felt that as an ardent fan I HAD to read his latest offering and judge for myself .

The beginning of the book is definitely reminiscent in its settings and tone to Hosseini’s earlier ventures . It begins with the tale of 2 siblings – Pari and Abdullah in a small poverty stricken village of Afghanistan called Shadbagh . The young brother and sister share a very special bond , their love for each other “running as deep as the blood coursing through their veins” . A folklore narrated by the children’s father , penned beautifully by the author , serves as a platform for the events that are about to unfold in their lives . The excellent narration in the first few chapters ensured that I got hooked on the tale instantly and prepared myself mentally for a heart wrenching , teary ride ahead .
However as the book moves on , the story of Abdullah and Pari recedes into the background and many parallel stories begin to take shape . All the characters are interconnected in some way or the other to the two siblings and of course Afghanistan .Some of the stories are poignant and mange to tug your heartstrings( for example ,the one with Masooma and her sister) ,but overall it makes the book complex to read . Too many characters have been etched out and despite each of them having their own unique and mesmerizing stories , the emotional connect with the reader goes missing somewhere in the middle of the book . A few of the chapters felt incomplete . As a reader I felt somewhat cheated because after engrossing me so successfully in the lives of some of those characters (thanks to the marvelous storytelling techniques that Hosseini inherently possesses ) , after a few pages their tales would end abruptly and the characters would be lost forever .

Thankfully after meandering off a little in the middle ,the end of the book is as good as the beginning . It brings back Abdullah and Pari and captures their reunion through the eyes of Abdullah’s daughter , who herself has been named Pari . Though the ending is not as expected, still it lends the much needed completeness to the relationship between the two siblings and the book .

So summing up ,I did not really enjoy reading “And the mountains Echoed “ as much as the Kite runner or a A Thousand Splendid Suns . The multiple point of view style of storytelling did not appeal to me too much and I do wish the two endearing central characters had been given more space .It took me comparatively longer to read through the book and a few times I was tempted to skip a few parts and move on (which I resisted  ) . However ,despite it’s flaws and as a stand alone book (ie if we do not compare it with Hosseini’s 2 previous ventures ), it is wonderfully written and touching . If nothing else I advise you to read it just to experience the joy that a master storyteller like Khaled Hosseini brings to the fictional world !!

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