Friday, December 27, 2013

My All-Time Favourite: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

An unforgettable novel about finding a lost piece of yourself in someone else.

Khaled Hosseini, 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.
Happy Holidays! I'm honoured to say that I was picked to be a Star Blogger for Penguin Canada for their Holiday campaign. I cannot express my gratitude towards Penguin Canada. You guys let me discover my new all-time favourite book!!! That is incredible! You have no idea how happy I am.
From the start, I immediately knew I would love to review And the Mountains Echoed (AtME) by Khaled Hosseini from the list of books I was sent. I read The Kite Runner (TKR) in grade 12 and it was one of the most brilliant reads I've ever encountered. So when Elizabeth emailed me the complete list, BAM! I emailed her back with the pick without a second thought. So now here I am, revealing my thoughts on that quick decision. I hope this ramble makes sense. :)
If you find grammatical or spelling errors it is because I am reading this at 6 in the morning without any sleep. Yes I stayed up until 6 in the morning finishing this book. I LITERALLY COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN.

Chapter one, wow, that chapter one. That single chapter captured my heart as a kid who loves myths. A powerful start full of imagery. And I knew immediately this chapter was the rock that tied the story to the core. With such a powerful start, the few chapters that followed suffered. At first I didn't like AtME as much as The Kite Runner but then I realized that I shouldn't be comparing these two. It is almost like comparing elements of contemporary books with high fantasy books. But if I must compare, this book had a slower start but I feel like this book is more "full" and more work went into it, thus more complex. I absolutely enjoyed it.

In AtME, Hosseini time jumps and "POV jumps". The sequences are out of place, sometimes revealing mysterious stories that are later clarified with another time jump. So what I am saying is that Hosseini liked to jump in the middle of a story to another middle of a story. It confused me but it also creates my hunger to clarify the story. Those time jumps allowed different POVs and stories. The whole book felt like interconnecting short stories. Each story focused slightly on different thing but the major themes are guilt, betrayal, love. Each character has their own different story relating to those 3 themes. Each story are hard to take and each burdened my heart. I felt the weight of each of them. I couldn't believe what the characters went through, the cold hardship, the silent strength, the quiet torment. Some characters seemed shallow and heartless at the beginning but as different stories progressed, I realized there was so much more to those characters. Those characters were like soup, the longer you let it simmer, the more flavorful it became. And what happened when you mix those good flavours? They exploded into fireworks. The relationships between the characters were well developed, meshed strongly together that I felt like I physically saw a story and the lines of the relationship. It was as if I could see a vast plain of fabric, linking together to form an image, a story. I know I am being vague about what happened but the thing is, Hosseini' story isn't straight forward, there's no direct plot summary for it. There's no "this happened then this, followed by that". So if my sister asked me "write the Wiki page for the book", I wouldn't know where to begin. The story seemed like a thousand pieces of string that need to be tied correctly to ends. If one mistake is made, the story will rupture into a mess. That's how I felt about the story. It took serious work and talent to layer such story. Read the book and you will understand. But I would let you know that there were moments when I was so shocked by the plot that I cried in the middle of the night, wishing that I could talk to someone, and ramble all my feelings. I wanted to cry, to punch something, to hunt Hosseini down and ask him how could he do this to my heart and how the hell did he knew me so well. I wanted to insult him for being so damn good. It hurts, the perfection of this book, it frickin' damn hurts.

And knowing Hosseini from TKR, he would put a lot of work into themes and character names. In this book, it was more obvious. I am already drafting a post on how I personally interpreted these elements. It might differ from educational sites such as SparksNote and could be totally wrong but that's how I saw those elements and I am excited to do something this different.

So to conclude this ramble of a review, if TKR didn't already confirmed my admiration for Hosseini, this book just sealed it. Hosseini is my idol, my star, my god of literature. I never looked up to an author as much as I do him. I only wish I can be 1/100th of a writer like him.

PS: I know I didn't give away any detail of the story in this review. It was a whole post about how I felt while reading instead of guided overview and character description. I honestly don't think they were what I got out of the story. But do feel free to chat me up about the book with specific character, events etc. I would love to ramble with someone.

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