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Book Review: The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Can a reader really select one book as his/her favorite when asked? It’s not possible. But there might be one book that comes to mind spontaneously as the answer to that question. For me, that answer would be this book, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I read this book from my neighborhood library long back. The story has been unforgettable, and the book now is a prized part of my small bookshelf.

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Book Review: Sea Prayer, by Khaled Hosseini

When I heard Khaled Hosseini, one of my favorite authors, was going to release a new book, I was excited. I thought it would be one of his long novels in his expressive style. Instead I got a small 50 page illustrated book.

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Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini

About the author:
Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, but is now a resident of California, USA. He is the author of international bestsellers, “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, both of which are set in Afghanistan.

Impressions from the cover:
A family story, with a father and his two children as the focus. And a lot of feathers involved in some way as well.

Impressions from the blurb:
The family angle is definitely implied, and more of the brother sister relationship as well. As with his novels, the words will touch our heart, for that’s his style.

My review:
Khaled Hosseini has this somewhat unique capability to touch a chord in the reader’s heart, bring out images from his words and it is that what capability that to me, has set him apart from other authors. Those who have read Kite Runner would understand what I mean, for though he doesn’t go directly to the heart of the matter, he sets his pace up slowly, making the reader suffer with pleasure for knowing what the next scene would be and eagerly turning the pages, absorbing the emotions that are hard to understand at times. To me, the novel The Kite Runner is possibly his best, and this novel is not as good, maybe a couple of notches lacking.

This novel is an explorative journey of the emotions of sibling love; of how the affection of a brother for his sister transcends time, and the memories of many heartfelt moments can never be thrown out of our heart completely, even if they are replaced by some others as the transition happens from childhood to adulthood. It was touching to read the story of Pari and Abdullah. A brother who loves his younger sister beyond anything else, who’d go to any lengths to keep her happy, even if it meant sacrificing his good shoes for a feather for her collection, who kept adding to that collection even when fate conspired to separate them in life and keeping hope that God would bring them back together again. The novel told of human tendency to do something that they do not want to do, because they feel they have to do it. In a secondary story, we are also told of the story of a young girl who is at a hospital because of family strife. That story focused on the ability of love to help in the healing of a broken heart, and also that one moment wherein one lacks courage to go through with a final step.

I think what puts this a rung less on the Hosseini ladder is that toward the end, the pace of the novel just seems to zoom. New characters just come in suddenly, the point of view changes suddenly and you get confused who is narrating. Like the time Nabi’s narration of his actions comes. There’s no clue that it’s Nabi who’s doing it, and it’s not until three pages after that we finally understand it is Nabi. Miracles seem to just happen very quickly and it loses that contemplative style that was there to that point. And another thing perhaps is the quick sub-story of the little girl, Roshi. I’d have liked to know more of her. You can tell the zoom effect toward the end when years pass by in just a few pages.

Is this as good as The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns? No. It’s nearly there, but a couple of notches less I feel. You don’t feel as emotionally connected to the characters after a while. The innocent Pari, and her relationship with Abdullah, her brother is the focus of the novel at the start, and that changes. We’re taken through the rest of Pari’s life in the novel, but it doesn’t resonate like the brother-sister relationship and that narration. Abdullah’s life is completely obscured, and a few characters, like the commander and his family, just don’t make sense in the pace it has been done in. But in the mood setting, and appealing narration, Hosseini does weave his magic, and touches our heart.

A rating of 8/10
A rating of 8/10

Book Details:
Title: And the Mountains Echoed
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 978-9-3829-5100-1
Publishers: Bloomsbury India
Price: INR 600


This book is a personal copy. No payment was taken for this review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.

(June 19th, 2013)