Title: And the Mountains Echoed.
Author: Khaled Hosseini
About the story: In the year of 1952, Saboor, a poor farmer from a village in Afghanistan, Shadbagh, decides to sell his 3 year old daughter, Pari, to a wealthy couple in Kabul. He does this in order to save his family from the extremely harsh winter, which had killed his infant son in the previous year. A finger must be cut to save the hand. But this decision of Saboor breaks Abdullah’s heart, who is not only a brother to Pari but also takes on the role of a mother, after the death of their own mother during childbirth.
Pari soon forgets her brother and her old life, enjoying her time in the comfortable home of Suleiman Wahdati, and in the affection of her new mother, Nila. Her step uncle, Nabi, who had originally arranged Pari to be sold to the couple, feels remorse for separating the siblings. He placates himself, saying that he did it only to make his employer, Nila, happy and forget her own inability to have children. Nabi, is secretly enamored by the beautiful and charming, Nila and is devastated when she leaves for Paris along with Pari, following a stroke attack on her husband, Suleiman.
As years roll, Abdullah and Pari’s lives move along. They marry, have children, and overcome tragedies. But Abdullah can never forget his little sister, narrating her story to his daughter, who he names as Pari. And his beloved sister, living in Paris, is often dazed by the wispy memories of her childhood and a faint sense of something missing in her life.
Almost 5 decades later the siblings unite, but will it be a happy ending? Will the brother and sister finally realize their childhood dream of living close to each other, when they grow up? You’ll have to read the emotional and heart-wrenching tale of Pari and Abdullah in the third novel of Khaled Hosseini.
My Review: There are a few books that can manage to grab a reader’s interest in the first few pages of the book. Usually most books take a minimum of 25-50 pages for the story to unfold, for the plot to take-off. But ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ is one rare book which captures the reader’s imagination right from page one.
Although the plot is about the two siblings and how their lives unfurl, each chapter narrates the stories of various characters in the book. Out of which, some are absolute tear-jerkers and some are unnecessarily prolonged, adding nothing much to the plot. It’s like a collection of short stories which are in some way connected to each other. I loved the story depicting the relationship shared between Nabi and his master, Suleiman. I was shedding copious tears reading the poignant tale.
The author has the characters portrayed with a shade of pragmatism, which I liked. It also sheds a little light on the lives of people living in Afghanistan during the Taliban reign and the Soviet Invasion, although I wished the author had delved a little bit deeper into that.
Overall an emotional and sentimental tale of love, separation, desires, misunderstanding, guilt, redemption and undying-faith and hope.
Verdict: A definite and absolute must-read. Word of caution though, keep a tissue handy, I’m sure you’ll need it when reading this book.