When I first began to read And the Mountains Echoed, I had to remind myself that the author had told me — as I sat among other eager devotees of his stories — that this book was not like the other two I’d read and devoured. (The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns). He told us it wasn’t a linear creation with page 1 being the beginning and Page 400 being the end of one person’s story. I should not have been surprised by the episodic feel of this book about a brother and his sister, separated by circumstances that cut to the heart.
I wasn’t surprised exactly, but I was a bit disappointed in how dependent I’d let myself become on traditional storytelling. I had to work a little harder to keep the story alive in my head and heart when I wasn’t reading it. I believe that’s my fault, not the author’s, because true to his other two books, Khaled Hosseini is a master of prose.
I should also not have been comparing this book to The Kite Runner, for example, measuring this story’s delivery to that one. If I let myself do that, which I refuse!, I might think this is only a 4-star book. Again, I think that’s more my lazy feed-me-the-story attitude. On its own, comparing it to nothing else, it’s a fabulous book. The ending is nothing short of perfect. I really did love it. Don’t ask me if I liked it as much as Kite Runner and Suns. I liked it as much, only different.
If you’ve not read the premise of Mountains, here’s the gist, from the Goodreads website: “The #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.
“In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, 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.”
That’s actually a really great way to describe this book – the story expands gradually outward. So don’t plant your feet, or snuggle down into a slumber-like pose. Read and reach outward, friends.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this stellar book:
“It’s a funny thing… but people mostly have it backward. They think they live by what they want. But really, what guides them is what they’re afraid of. What they don’t want.”
“For courage, there must be something at stake. I come here with nothing to lose.”
“It was the kind of love that, sooner or later, cornered you into a choice: either you tore free or you stayed and withstood its rigor even as it squeezed you into something smaller than yourself.”