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It begins in 1952. Ten-year-old Abdullah and his younger sister, Pari, are everything to each other. What happens to them, at the despairing hand of their father, will test the unshakable bonds of family and irrevocably change not just their own lives, but those of multiple generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Khaled Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honour, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek Island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.Learn More
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A 2013 Entertainment Weekly Best Book for Fiction
A USA Today bestseller
A Wall Street Journal bestseller
A New York Times bestseller
A Washington Post bestseller
A #1 Los Angeles Times bestseller
A 2013 Washington Post Notable Book
An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2013
A Barnes & Noble Best Book of the Month, May 2013
A 2013 Chicago Tribune Noteworthy Book for Fiction
An NPR bestseller
A San Francisco Chronicle bestseller
Selected for the June 2013 Indie Next List
An AudioFile Editors’ Pick, May 2013
A Publishers Weekly bestseller
A 2013 BookPage Best Book
A 2013 Booklist Editors’ Choice for Adult Books
In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Khaled Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honour, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek Island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.
Moving, but it isn't perfect...
Damn, And the Mountains Echoed made me cry. I just finished it. Gosh, why did it upset me so much?! And will others react as I have? Is it just stupid me? I can point at a million things that are wrong with the book....and yet, it has done something right since it has undeniably moved me. Rarely do books make me cry.
OK, here is what I think is going on, in my head and in my heart:
I will start with what is simple, but very important. This is the first book I have listened to where I would advise very strongly that you read the paper book rather than listen to the audio version. There are three narrators: the author (Khaled Hosseini), a woman (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and a second male narrator (Navid Negahban). The latter two slur English words to such an extent that you must decipher what is being said by the context of the words. Cheek sounds like chick; swim sounds like "sweem"; breeze sounds like bees; words sounds like wards; shut sounds like shot; launches sounds like lunches. Must I go on? The woman's voice is so muted that you must increase the volume. I liked Hosseini's reading of the introductory fairy tale, but then later he enunciates every darn letter. Quite simply, the narration is unprofessional. Furthermore, why in the world have they even bothered to use three different narrators? The book shifts to different locations around the world - France, Greece and the US. I would have preferred three narrators: one fluent in French, one in Greek and one in American, or just one narrator that speaks fluent English. They all spoke what I think was meant to be English with an Afghan accent; let's just say poor English. Some of the characters lived in France since their early youth. The narration is so poor that it detracts from one's appreciation of the author's words. Read the paper book!
This book is about an Afghan family, starting at the end of the 40s and ending a decade into the 21st Century. It is about the how the 20th Century has split families. It isn't unusual today to find members of one family spread all over the world. What does this do to us? And what is the essence of family....if we do not live near each other and if we do not have daily contact, hands on contact. Are we still bound to each other? Does family remain family?
The book begins with a bedtime story, which is as I originally thought the central message of the entire book. So pay attention. The beginning is also the best part of the book, because there in the beginning you most intimately rub shoulders with the main characters. These characters will have children and grandchildren and spouses and friends and you never really come to know them as you do the first ones. The central theme of the book IS based on the choices that are made by the first characters we meet. Later chapters deal with one family and then another family or friend. They can almost be seen as separate stories, but yes they do all come together at the end. The problem is that the book does not succeed in bringing all of these diverse stories to life. Neither are all the different places brought to life. Afghanistan was well portrayed, but not Paris, not California, not Greece! The book tries to do too much. Or is it that Hosseini has best captured that which he knows best? I will credit him in his attempt to show what happens to "family" in today's globalized world.
But none of the above is really what brought the tears to my eyes. We love someone, and even if we try our hardest to make the best choices, even if we sacrifice our own personal needs, still one can be left with such emptiness. Sometimes that emptiness simply cannot be filled. Sometimes we try our best, but so much is misunderstood. Life is damn messy. There can be a wonderful blessing in forgetting. I know that sounds crazy, but it is true. The book explains this better than I have.
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