Review: And the Mountains Echoed


And the Mountains Echoed
And the Mountains Echoed
By Khaled Hosseini
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594631764, May 2013, 416pp.)

The Short of It:

A multi-generational saga that begins with a difficult decision, a decision that manages to echo repeatedly throughout the lives of this family.

The Rest of It:

I can’t say that I’ve read Hosseini before this book. I was supposed to. The Kite Runner was a book club pick many years ago but I could not get into the writing so I gave up on it. However, this was not the case with And the Mountains Echoed. In fact, I was immediately pulled into the story and kept with it no matter how many families appeared or what happened to them, but I must be honest, I lost interest during the second half of the novel. For me, there seemed to be too much going on and too many characters to keep track of.

But, that is why it’s good to read these types of books with a book club. You get to discuss the hell out of it and then after all of the discussion, you typically have a new-found appreciation for the writing and that is very much the case here.

The story begins in an Afghan village. Abdullah is ten-years-old and his baby sister Pari,  is only three. They live with their father and step-mother but have struggled with money all of their lives. After losing a baby to the cold the previous winter, Abdullah’s father, Saboor, takes Pari to a wealthy family, where she will live out her remaining years. Abdullah is devastated by this decision. The two of them were very close and losing his sister causes him great pain. Saboor, also greatly affected, has to believe that he’s made the right decision. With so little food and the harsh winter ahead of her, he doesn’t see how keeping her would be in her best interest.

The story then bounces back and forth between Afghanistan and the West as we follow the families involved. All in all, I lost interest in the other generations. Their stories didn’t resonate with me as much as Pari’s or Abdullah’s for that matter, but I can’t deny the fact that Hosseini knows how to tell a story. He does.

As a book club pick, there was actually plenty to discuss. I worried that the conversation would fall flat but everyone had lots to say and most enjoyed reading it. What weighed heavily on me was Saboor’s decision to sell his daughter to the wealthy family. As harsh as the decision was, was it the best thing for her at the time? Most agreed that yes, it was. I wasn’t so sure. Surely, money and position do play a role in a girl’s survival, but was it a better life? I am still pondering the alternative and I finished the book a few weeks ago so that just goes to show you how the book manages to stay with you.

Have you read it? I can’t say it was a favorite but it made for some excellent discussion.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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26 Responses

  1. I agree – book clubs can make a huge different. Even reading reviews after you’ve read a book can add to one’s appreciation of stuff one missed.

  2. I haven’t read this yet (have it on my kindle, though), but what I’ve heard is very similar to what you are saying. Thanks for the review.

  3. I liked this book a lot but get what you mean about too much going on.

  4. I thought that on some levels this was Hosseini’s weakest book so far. There was so much going on! But he is a great storyteller. It’s interesting because this is his only book that I haven’t read for a book group. I wonder how that would have changed my appreciation of it.

    • I think everyone in my club, who has read him before said the same thing. It was his weakest novel out of what he’s written thus far. I REALLY did not like it after the first half but with all of the discussion, I ended up liking it more.

  5. I haven’t read any Hosseini yet but I’m hoping to change that sometime this year. He comes with a lot of positive reviews, which makes it harder, because what it none of that works for me.

    • Do you ever like an author more after listening to him speak? I watched some interviews, to get a feel for his motivation behind the book and I found myself appreciating the book more after listening to him.  That, and the book club discussion made it a “like” for me but I was sure I was going to ditch it at one  point. 

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  6. sounds like this would be a great discussion book, I’ve not read this book either, but I don’t think selling a daughter to a wealthy family would ever be the “best” decision…eek.

    • That is how I felt!! Yeah, the cold winters and lack of food but they had another baby… even after the one baby died from the cold they had another baby. I’d stop having babies before selling my kid. 

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  7. I really liked this book a lot and agree that it would be good to discuss with a book club, but I enjoyed his earlier books even more!

  8. I have only read one book by this author (The Kite Runner). I have a copy of this one, but haven’t been able to bring myself to read it. I think I’m gun shy since I loved his other book so much.

    I am glad you found it to be a good discussion book for your group.

    • Do all his books span generations? I really liked the original story that opened the book but once the other generations got involved  I lost interest. 

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  9. Hosseini is one of those authors I’m embarrassed not to have read, yet the reviews have been almost universally underwhelming on this one. I need to visit his older works, I think. I’m sorry this one didn’t wow you, but I’m glad it led to good discussion (my book club is the same way–sometimes the reads I like the least generate the best discussion!)

  10. I know that everyone read The Kite Runner except for me and and now you…somehow I feel bonded with you by that!

    • The Kite Runner was pretty popular after the movie came out, but I’ve never been drawn to it. 

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  11. I read The Kite Runner when it came out and I loved it. Not sure why, but it was one of those books that grabbed me. The story itself was rich, the complexity of the character’s situations fascinating, and above all, for me, the ending, which hinted at the possibility of a hopefulness, but did not overtly claim it.

    And the Mountains Echoed is sitting my overflowing credenza, patiently waiting to be read.

  12. I loved The Kite Runner but didn’t pick up this book because it just didn’t interest me. However I enjoyed reading readers’ thoughts on this book; it’s always refreshing to hear different views and see from their angle.

    • Everyone I’ve spoken to says this is the weakest BUT…

      There is always a BUT. I am guessing because he’s a good storyteller in general. 

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  13. I enjoyed The Kite Runner and loved A Thousand Splendid Suns. If this is the weakest of the three, I’m not sure I’ll read it. Even when it first came out, I wasn’t interested. Maybe I’m just tired of reading books set in Afghanistan.

    • It does seem as they are a lot of books set in Afghanistan and I never want to pick them up.  I am sheltered with my reading. I know this about me. If it weren’t for book club I’d probably never  pick up books set in other countries. 

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  14. I loved the Kite Runner. For many reasons. Probably mostly because the ending only hinted at the possibility of a hopeful outcome but did not overtly claim it. And The Mountains Echoed is sitting on my bedside table, waiting patiently to be read. Partly because I love the title. Partly because The Kite Runner really got in to my soul. I have not read A Thousand Splendid Suns.

  15. I think it is to the author’s detriment if you HAVE read his earlier books, because they are much better. I kept waiting for some big reveal or twist or revelation in this one and it didn’t happen. He still is a wonderful storyteller though, and as someone said, his worst work is better than most other’s crown jewel. Just an FYI to any audio lovers out there, the audio in this case is not the way to go. I don’t normally say that, but the accents were very hard to understand and there was too much going on to be able to follow it easily.

    • EVERYONE says his other books are better but after this one, I am not all that eager to seek them out.  And on audio? No. Just no. 

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  16. On a completely unrelated note… I see that Stephen King is releasing another book in November called Revival.

    • Yep!! And Mr. Mercedes in June!! Another two-fer for Mr. King this year. 

      Ti   Visit my blog: Book Chatter

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  17. I enjoyed this one, but then again, I’m a huge fan of Hosseini and will read anything that he writes. It’s not my favorite, but I still enjoyed it just the same.

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