The Best Book You'll Read All Year: And the Mountains EchoedKacy Faulconer
I’ve read some fantastic books this year. I love scanning all the “Best of 2013” reviews to see if everyone else liked my favorites.
But one title kept popping up that I hadn’t read yet: Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed.
I haven’t yet read (I know!) Hosseini’s best selling The Kite Runner. So I kept thinking I really should read that one first. But list after list from NPR to Amazon touted this latest book as a must-read.
As luck would have it, last week I dropped my son off at his guitar lesson a block from my local public library. I sauntered over to browse the stacks and get warm. There it was. A new release — no waiting list! I nabbed it. And I haven’t come up for air until I finished it last night, which isn’t great because I meant to blog my OWN “Best of 2013” reviews in time for New Years Eve. Oh wellsie.
This book is moving and beautiful and made me get tears in my eyes for the humanity of it all. Hosseini tells the story of a family and its peripheral members, associates, and caretakers over a couple generations. He talks about how people need each other and take care of each other and how we can be hurt and changed by circumstances and choices. This book is everything.
And the Mountains Echoed starts in Afghanistan and spans the globe from Paris to Greece to San Francisco. It deals with relationships within families, how parents age, what people need when they’re ready to die, and the ties between brothers, sisters, and cousins. It was poignant to read over the holidays because I spent so much time with family.
The first characters you’ll get to know in the book are 10-year-old Abdullah and his sister 3-year-old Pari, from a poor Afghan village. One day their father makes a choice for the good of his family that will separate the children for more than 50 years. Abdullah, older, never forgets his sister. He is wounded by the loss for the rest of his life. Pari, too young to remember, goes on to live her life not knowing where she came from but feeling the absence always. From there, you’ll meet a lot of other people bound and haunted by familial duty. It’s so good.
I do have one criticism about this book: I don’t love the title. Inspired by William Blake’s poem “Nurse’s Song: Innocence,” it’s so hard to remember. But do try. Because this is a beautiful book that you should read.
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