Tag Archives: Khaled Hosseini

Book Review: And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (3/5). Family lasts forever, no matter what.

19 May

I waited for eight months for the book-on-CD copy of this book. Yes, EIGHT MONTHS! By the time I got it, I was ecstatic. Unfortunately, it just didn’t do it for me. I’m not sure why. I loved Hosseini’s other books, but this one let me down. Oh well. Read on to find out why.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

The way two people’s lives can separate and come together is an amazing thing. The story follows siblings Abdullah and Pari through their lives though not often in a direct way. The two are separated when Pari is only three and is sold to a wealthy man whose wife is unable to have children. They raise her as if she were their own child and Pari is never told that she has a brother.

The book is told from the point of view of various people who interact with their complicated relationship. One character is the uncle who arranged for Pari to be sold to the wealthy family. Another is Adel, the son of a warlord who has claimed the land Abdullah and his family grew up on. Through these characters the reader watches the years pull Pari and Abdullah apart until they finally crash back together again.

My friend Leah, me, and a distracted Hosseini

My friend Leah, me, and a distracted Hosseini

I had mixed feelings on this book. I am a huge fan of Hosseini’s other works, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. I heard him speak when I was in college and have this (terrible) picture of me with him. He is a really inspirational person and has done a lot of great charity work with the UN. So I wanted to like it. I mean I really wanted to. But it just didn’t happen for me. I liked the back-and-forth time period enough, but the switching points of view was a bit much. It felt more like a collection of short stories than a single novel to me and it was difficult to get into. I listed to this on audio and there were three narrators, including Hosseini. I found their accents distracting, to be honest. At least at first. It got easier by the third disc or so.

Hosseini writes amazing characters. I loved the way he wound cultures and countries together and showed us that no matter what a person’s upbringing is or what language they speak, they’re still a person and they still affect everyone around them. Idris impacts Roshi by not acting and Amra impacts her through actions. The decisions we make impact everyone and I think Hosseini did an amazing job showing this. When I met him, he seemed very ‘American’ to me. He talked about watching football on Sundays and yard work. I think this plays into his message that we still are ourselves no matter the setting and people around us. It doesn’t matter that Hosseini lives in the US and watches the NFL. He’s still an Afghan and loves his country.

My favorite was Markos, a doctor in Kabul. He rents and later owns the home where Pari’s adopted parents lived before the house was gifted to Pari’s uncle, Nabi. After Nabi dies, it’s Markos who finds Pari and tells her the truth about her parents. Markos has a back-story that really touched me. He grew up with an adopted sister with a serious deformity. Even though he was at first disgusted by it, he learns to love her and learn how beautiful she is. His faith in humanity and in her beauty inspires him to do a lot of things such as becoming a doctor and returning to visit his mother. I felt that he was more affected by the story of Abdullah and Pari than any other character.

I think the fact that I couldn’t relate to any of the characters was part of what made this book less enjoyable to me than the others. The only character I felt any connection to was Idris and that’s because he lived in the US and experienced the ‘US bubble’ that we see around us every day. We think, ‘How terrible that people are starving in Africa and those in Haiti still don’t have homes. I need to go buy a $500 computer so you can’t have my $10.’ We’re all guilty of it. And this made me angry with myself more than I sympathized with Idris.

Khaled Hosseini (image via Vulture.com)

Khaled Hosseini (image via Vulture.com)

I loved following Pari’s life in Paris. I loved her as an independent woman and her struggle to relate to her mother. Nila was hard to understand and relate to as well and I’m glad (from a story point of view) that Pari and Nila struggled to get along. Nila was so selfish that she was hard to love. I hated more than anything that she lied to Pari about her adopted father’s condition and that she was adopted. Was it really too hard to say your adopted father is disabled and we adopted you? Any way. I loved Pari’s attitude and her drive to accomplish something so different than her mother. I found her really inspiring.

I thought Adel’s story was a little too far removed from the plot and it took me out of the book. Don’t get me wrong, it was one of my favorite stories (after Markos) in the novel, but I saw it as too much of a stretch. Adel didn’t have siblings and his relation to Abdullah and Pari was through their younger half-brother, Iqbal. I don’t know, it seemed disjointed.

I just looked through the Wikipedia page (because it’s a reliable source) and saw that a reviewer from the New York Times said this book is about sibling relationships as told through several pairs of siblings. I did not pick up on that until now. There are a ton of examples: Pari/Abdullah, Parwana/Nabi, Idris/Timur, and Markos/Thalia. The more I think about this, the more I like it. All of these siblings have drastically different relationships with each other, but it remains true that they affect each other throughout their entire lives. Hosseini’s first two books focused on parent/child relationships and I liked the switch to siblings in this novel. He went for a very different narrative style but still kept the focus on family.

Writer’s Takeaway: Hosseini made a bold move by changing his writing style so much for this novel and I’m not sure if it paid off. On one side, I liked seeing so many different people from such different backgrounds but I think it diluted his message by muddling the story of Abdullah and Pari with so many other plot lines. It’s unfortunate that as authors we’re supposed to pick a style and stick with it and that those who want to change styles or genres many times have to use a pen name. I think it’s great that Hosseini attempted something different and I think it worked for the majority of people, but it didn’t work well for me.

I think I might have liked the physical book better than the audio on this one, but it was still enjoyable. Three out of five stars.

This book fulfills ‘Foreign Country: Afghanistan’ on my Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

 

Related Posts:
Sacrifice and Redemption: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini | The Book Vineyard
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, Book Review | Shivani Ahuja
Book Review – And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini | flyingbubbles
Book Review – And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini – 3 1/2 stars | Strive to Engage

 

WWW Wednesday, 30-April-2014

30 Apr

My number of in-process books is slowly going down. Slowly. It’s still a bit out of control. I’m glad MizB’s WWW forces me to deal with my obsession.
www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’ve got one book more or less on hold right now. It’s The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker which is a Goodreads First Read I’ve been wanting to get into for months now. I hope to power through it in a few weeks when the book club stack slows down.

On audiobook I’m back to listening to Cabin Pressure by Josh Wolk. I think I’m getting close to the end on this one and I’ve really enjoyed it for the laughs.

I just started The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa for my book club. No report on it yet but I’ve heard it’s a fast read. On my phone I’m reading The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. It’s slow going but it’s starting to get interesting again and I’m excited to keep at this one. I think it will be well worth it in the end. I’ve also started The Maze Runner by James Dashner. You can expect to see this on my list for a few months because it’s my first Read-Along selection. If you’re interested in joining, let me know soon before we get too far along! We’ll have read Chapters 1-9 by May 10th.

Recently finished: Finished one book Monday and one on Tuesday! I’m so glad I can report something. I finished the audiobook for And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini and a physical copy of The City and the City by China Mieville, which was a book club selection. Reviews coming… eventually!

Reading Next:  I want to re-read the book I wrote during NaNoWriMo so that’s next on my list. Sadly, no link to a webpage for it yet.

Phew that was long! What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 23-April-2014

23 Apr

I’m always overwhelmed by my own post for WWW Wednesday hosted by MizB. I hope I can finish all the books I’m starting. Also, should I start including pictures? What do you all think?
www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I feel like I’m adding more to this list than I’m taking off. I started reading The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker which really excited me because I didn’t think I’d get to! This is a Goodreads First Read I got ages ago and haven’t been able to start. I’m only a little bit in and really enjoying it, but I’m putting it on hold because I’ve got a wave of book club books tumbling down on me. The first is The City and the City by China Mieville. Can anyone spell his name phonetically for me? I’m curious. It’s very science-fiction-y and that’s not usually my thing so we’ll see how this goes. So far, so good. On my phone I’m still working through The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. It’s slow going here. The story is good, but not grabbing me the way I hoped it would. I hope it picks up soon.

On audio I’m about half way through And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I’m sad to announce that I’m not as into this story as I’d hoped to be. I’m hoping it’s a slow start, but it’s dragging a little. I think part of it is the narrators. Two of them have such strong accents that it distracts from how much I’m enjoying the story. I still have Cabin Pressure by Josh Wolk to listen to while I’m cooking and cleaning and I’m really enjoying this option. It makes cooking funny.

Recently finished: I finished reading Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian on Friday. I adored the book, a full 5 out of 5 stars. I’m writing the review now and it should be up next week. I got tweeted by the author and it made my day!

Reading Next:  I’ll be starting two more books in the next week. The first is The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa which is for my book club. It’s a short one so I’m hoping I won’t be held up on it for too long. The second is The Maze Runner by James Dashner. This is the book chosen for my first Read Along With Me series. We haven’t started yet and there’s still time to join. There’s more information here and you can email me at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com if you’re interested in joining us.

Phew that was long! What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can see all of these on the right hand bar. (You know you want to.)

Until next time, write on.

WWW Wednesday, 16-April-2014

16 Apr

A couple of updates for this new installment of WWW Wednesday hosted by MizB. I hope I can keep up this reading pace!
www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m getting toward the end of Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian. The book was a little slow to start, but Bohjalian is a beautiful writer and it kept me interested through the long yet necessary exposition. I have another of his books waiting on my shelf. I’m hoping to get it autographed when I hear him speak on the 30th! I know I said I put Cabin Pressure by Josh Wolk on hold but I’ve found time to listen to it while I clean or go on walks and it’s a nice thing to listen to at those times because it’s so darn funny. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson is keeping me entertained on my phone. It’s going slowly, mostly because I read during breakfast only. And if I have to wait at the chiropractor. But mostly breakfast. I’m really excited to say that I started And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I’m lucky enough that I got to hear Hosseini speak when I was in school and he is such a wonderful person and writer. I have a ton of respect for him and I’m really excited to read this book! I’ve heard wonderful things.

Recently finished: I finished the audiobook for The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. The review should be up next Tuesday, barring any emergency that might arise. I give it a 4/5.

Reading Next:  I might have time to squeeze in an ARC book, but probably not. Book club timing is pretty tight between my two groups. The next one up is The City and the City by China Mieville which sounds like a trippy science fiction. Jury’s out on how I’ll feel about it.

That’s it from me. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

As a reminder, if you’re interested in doing a Read-Along, please respond to this post. There’s a poll where you can vote on what book you’d like to read. I’m closing the voting at 5 PM today (Eastern time). Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can see all of these on the right hand bar. (You know you want to.)

Until next time, write on.

My Favorite Authors Across Genres

27 Nov

Asking a reader who their favorite author is usually feels like picking a favorite child (I’m assuming, I have no children, this is what I’ve been told). So, instead, I’ll tell you about my favorite authors for each genre that I read, long one or two runners-up who are worthy of mention.

This list is a bit short. I realized I’m not much of a repeat-reader as far as reading multiple books from an author. Unless it’s a series, which you’ll see a bit below. I like variety, some say it’s the spice of life.

Action: Steig Larsson

Contemporary Fiction: Khaled Hosseini

General Fiction: John Irving

Historical Fiction: Phillipa Gregory
Honorable Mention: Tracy Chevalier

Non-Fiction: A.J. Jacobs

Young Adult: J.K. Rowling (are you really surprised?)
Honorable Mention: S.E. Hinton

If I have to pick overall, I usually say John Irving. He gets a little repetitive if you read him a lot, but I love his storytelling style.

Who are your favorite writers? What other genres would you have chosen? Anyone I should read? Leave a comment and let me know!

Until next time, write on.