And The Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini, Riverhead Books, 2013, 402 pp
After being less than blown away by A Thousand Splendid Suns, I was going to give this one a miss. Khaled Hosseini, you can thank two of my reading groups, The Bookie Babes and Tina's Group, for getting me to read it after all.
And I'm glad I did. This author has always excelled at creating an emotional impact through his characters, thereby humanizing Afghan peoples for Western readers. In his third novel he adds a more complex structure that moves back and forth in time as well as location.
The story begins in an Afghan village where a father makes the difficult decision to give up a daughter for what he hopes will ensure her a better life, as well as for a payment that will help the rest of his family live in the present. But the separation between Pari and her beloved brother Abdullah creates a chasm in each sibling's heart that longs for reconnection. As these two and other characters relocate from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco, as other villagers survive wars and "progress", and a plastic surgeon arrives from Greece, the story grows more complicated.
Despite a few too many characters and story lines, Hosseini once again weaves together the noble and the unforgivable in human interactions. I ended up with more compassion for human beings and the choices we make, often without being able to perceive their consequences.
(And The Mountains Echoed is currently available in paperback on the shelves at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)