Friday, October 3, 2014

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

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BOOK review
Started on: 15.September.2014
Finished on: 26.September.2014

Title : And the Mountains Echoed
Author : Khaled Hosseini
Publisher : Bloomsbury
Pages : 480 pages / 368 pages (e-book)
Year of Publication : 2014
Price : $ 10.91 (www.bookdepository.com/)

Rating: 4.5/5
*may contain spoilers.
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"A story is like a moving train: no matter where you hop onboard, you are bound to reach your destination sooner or later. But I suppose I ought to begin this tale with the same thing that ends it."
It was 1952 when Saboor plans on going to Kabul with his three-year-old daughter, Pari. On the day of their departure, Abdullah - Pari's brother - begged his father so he could go with them. Abdullah was only a ten-year-old; but he raised Pari after their mother's death and Saboor then got married to another woman named Parwana. Abdullah and Pari arrived in Kabul and was welcomed by their step-uncle, Nabi, who works as a chauffeur for a wealthy couple: Mr. Wahdati and Nila Wahdati. They were having fun in Kabul; and only a while later did Abdullah realized that his father sold his sister to to the Wahdati couple.

"As I drove them to the Wahdati home, I did my best to seem cheerful for the children's benefit, the children who were oblivious to their fate - and to the terrible scene that would soon unfold."
"And please tell her, tell her that I cannot know the myriad consequences of what I set into motion. Tell her I took solace only in hope. Hope that perhaps, wherever she is now, she has found as much peace, grace, love, and happiness as this world allows."
After their separation, Abdullah longed to be reunited once again with her sister. And as the story goes, each character told their own perspective to the story. Nabi even wrote a letter and wrote explained how everything happened in the first place, his desires and motives included. That letter then falls in the hands of Markos Varvaris, a plastic surgeon. And through a series of events, the truth will be revealed and lives will be changed. Will Abdullah be able to reunite with his long lost sister, Pari?
"That there was in her life the absence of something, or someone, fundamental to her own existence. Sometimes it was vague, like a message sent across shadowy byways and vast distance, a weak signal on a radio dial, remote, warbled. Other times it felt so clear, this absence, so intimately close it made her heart lurch."
image source: here. edited by me.
Such a pity I couldn't give this book a 5/5 rating, because I absolutely love Khaled Hosseini's other books: The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, which I read back in 2010. Even though I didn't love this book as much as his other two books, I'd still say Khaled Hosseini is a talented story-teller. The way he weaved and delivered the story is very beautiful and alluring - and I was hooked right from the first page. For me, the first-half of And the Mountains Echoed is the best part of this book; and I feel slightly disappointed with the second-half of it. Even though I have my disappointments, I still enjoyed this beautiful story from beginning to end.

There are nine chapters in this book; each are told from the perspective of different characters and different time setting. It's actually a very interesting way to deliver the story and I quite like it. The book is build around the basic plot about the separation of Abdullah and Pari when they were children. But since the book is written from nine different characters' perspectives, there are a lot more conflicts surrounding the story. These side stories certainly give more depth to the book; however, it does feel like a collection of short stories that intertwine with each other. Besides the conflict of Abdullah and Pari, the other characters like Parwana (their stepmother) tells her personal struggle and why she married Saboor (Abdullah & Pari's father) in the first place. The chapter that focuses on Nabi (Parwana's brother) also talks about his personal desires and what happened to him as the story progresses; and he actually plays a really big role in the story because of the letter he wrote. I won't go into the details of each chapter, because there are many surprising revelation throughout the book that I don't want to spoil. But as I've said, I enjoyed the first-half of the book better than the second-half. The first few chapters really engaged me emotionally; however I kind of lose interest towards the end - because there are many new characters introduced that doesn't seem relevant to the overall story. However, there are many parts of this book that amaze me and made me want to applaud Khaled Hosseini for his exceptional writing skills. (Hint: So many plot twists. So many.)

★★★★★★
"When you have lived as long as I have, the div replied, you find that cruelty and benevolence are but shades of the same color. Have you made your choice?"
I don't have a favorite character in particular, but there are so many parts that I love in this book. I'm going to list them below so it will be easier for me to write them down:
  • The bedtime story told by Saboor to Abdullah and Pari in the beginning of the story. It's a simple story but very emotional - and the message of the story relates to what's going to happen next to Abdullah and Pari.
  • Parwana's life story. About her sister and how Parwana then got married to Saboor. This story is so deep... and sad.
"All her life, Parwana had made sure to avoid standing in front of a mirror with her sister. It robbed her of hope to see her face beside Masooma's, to see so plainly what she had been denied. But in public, every stranger's eye was a mirror. There was no escape."
  • The shocking plot twist about Mr. Wahdati. I seriously never expected that to happen; my mouth was hanging open when I discovered the truth.
  • Side story of Idris and Timur. Who are not directly related to the main characters in this story, but I think this part has a deep moral message. There's a tad bit of irony here; and the ending of this chapter is so gripping and certainly tugged at my heartstrings.
"All I'm saying is that it's crass to plaster your good deeds up on a billboard. Something to be said for doing it quietly, with dignity. There's more to kindness than signing checks in public."
  •  The side story of Adel (a boy from a wealthy family) and a poor boy named Gholam. Even though, again, it doesn't add much to the main plot, this chapter talks about the cruelty of war. At first it was difficult for me to understand this chapter, but as the story unfolds it became really interesting - because it touches on the topic of bribery as well.
"Remember when I tricked you and took your jersey?" Gholam said, a flush rising to his cheeks. "You almost cried. Don't deny it, I saw you. That was over a shirt. A shirt. Imagine how my family felt, coming all the way from Pakistan, only to get off the bus and find this thing on our land. And then your goon in the purple suit ordering us off our own land."
  •  Another story with deep meaning is about Markos Varvaris; who also played a big role in Abdullah and Pari's story, but doesn't tell about that part much in his chapter. My main focus in his chapter is actually Thalia, a girl who suffered from severe facial disfigurement - which made her life miserable.
"I learned that the world didn't see the inside of you, that it didn't care a whit about the hopes and dreams, and sorrows, that lay masked by skin and bone. It was as simple, as absurd, and as cruel as that."
 ★★★★★★

As I listed my favorite parts in this book and remembered how good they were, I seriously want to change my rating to 5/5. Originally, I gave 4/5 rating for this book right after I finished it; but writing this review made me want to add 0.5 points - just because I feel like this book deserves a little bit more. There are so many amazing aspects and important themes in the book. However, in terms of enjoyment, I feel like I cannot give this book a full score. *And I hope the list I wrote above won't spoil things too much for those who haven't read the book yet.

Overall, I do think it's much better to go into this book without knowing anythingbecause there are tons of surprises and revelations as the story goes. And like I've said earlier, I still love Khaled Hosseini's writing and his exceptional way of delivering the story to the readers. There are so many important message that I received from the stories of various characters. Even though I am not fully satisfied with this book, I will always keep an eye on Khaled Hosseini's future works.
"All it will beget is regret, I tell myself, and what good is regret? It brings back nothing. What we have lost is irretrievable."
"J'aurais dû être plus gentille―I should have been more kind. That is something a person will never regret. You will never say to yourself when you are old, Ah, I wish I was not good to that person. You will never think that."
by.stefaniesugia♥ .
 

4 comments:

  1. Hai, salam kenal :) Nice review. I also personally thought that this book is not as great as The Kite Runner, but Hosseini's great writing skill could still capture me. You are right when you say that it's kind of like a collection of short stories woven together, yet it still has its significant core of story. Btw, you have a very nice blog :))

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    Replies
    1. Hai salam kenal juga :D Thank youu, I really enjoy your blog as well ;)

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  2. Buku ini ya, duh duh XD

    Bener Stef, aku dari dulu pas buku ini terbit blas ga baca reviewnya, jadi pas baca kaya bilang nih hatiku Khaled, silahkan kau iris *kokkayamauperjamuankudus* :p

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