I have finished reading And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini and am leaving a review.
This book consists of several stories wrapped inside a larger story. The larger story is about two children in Afghanistan who are separated by circumstances and their struggles across the world as they find their way back to each other. The smaller stories inside this story are about all the characters around these two people and their lives.
What this results in is not so much one long, traditional plot as a bunch of chapters each showing the spotlight on a different set of interactions throughout the book. Through the entire thing the larger story is never forgotten, but it’s not the main point. I found this way of writing very interesting, in the good sense, but its constant going off in different directions might not be for everyone.
So many different themes are dealt with in the stories of the people in this book. The lives of men and women, their loves and hates, ages of all types, and the book spans several decades and countries. The great triumph of the novel is its ability to get inside people’s heads, which is especially skillful given the vast array of characters of all walks of life, most of them Afghan, that the novel offers. The descriptive writing is also very good and three-dimensional, though it sometimes goes on a bit during important moments.
There are happy and sad stories, but the general tone of most of them is somewhat bittersweet. There are good moments — dedication of various types gets special attention — but there are also hard times and human weaknesses. I don’t usually like realism in stories, but this book manages to pull it off and still be quite enjoyable and interesting.
I would recommend it.