This book is unlike most books written about the bloodshed and warfare in Afghanistan. In fact, this book starts with the unparalleled bond of love and belonging between a brother and his younger sister. But then the author decides to include other characters too, their lives in Afghanistan, their emotions, passions, unspoken feelings of love, betrayal, remorse, tolerance, understanding and much more. It is a book that contains many stories within a story; stories of some people seemingly independent of other characters in the book while there are others whose lives are so intricately bound and wound to known and unknown figures in the past. For some characters in the book, their future is nothing but a haunting reflection of the past, while others find it easier to move to the future without clinging on to what had happened before in their lives.
The book is, in fact, stories revolving around a medley of characters, though not all serve the purpose for which they were introduced by the author. The author has a gift for words, which is evident in the story telling mode with which he starts the story and then moves on to explain how the our real lives can be a startling imitation of the folklore bedtime stories.
As always, Hosseini is an amazing storyteller. But if you have already read his other books including “A thousand splendid suns” and “The Kite Runner”, then you might be in for disappointment. Though the author can be described as a treasure trove of words describing the daily struggle of the people living there and the difficult choices they make in response to life’s hardships, thus, lending a poignant feel to the story written, inclusion of too many characters tends to mar the interest halfway. Aptly named “And the Mountains That Echoed” as the incidents in the past have indeed a rippling effect on the later, while the words and images haunt the mind with their echoing effect. Most of the characters living in Afghanistan cannot claim themselves too fortunate while there are others who realize how they would have run out of luck had they continued to stay in Afghanistan and not emigrate to foreign lands.
However, some chapters have a dragging effect. Characters and their stories dragged unnecessarily or forced connections introduced by the author in a bid to cover everything in one go. Just as the readers start loving and feeling connected with the bond that Abdullah and his sister Pari share between them, they are suddenly forced to tear away into the lives of others that seem so comfortable and unnecessary. Incomplete chapters cause you to lose interest in its pages after having covered nearly 2/3rd of the book.
This book could have been better, if the author had preferred to stop every new character he wanted to tell the readers about.
An enjoyable read only till you have reached two-thirds of its pages, though I am not going to refer the same to any reader looking for an overall interesting read. This book is a one-time read, though there are some paragraphs that readers may love to mark and read them again.