Anchor Staff Writer
Blood is thicker than water. Tragedy may fray the bonds between brothers, sisters and cousins, especially as a rapidly changing world pushes them farther and farther apart, sometimes until they’re separated for good. However, life is full of unexpected miracles and a bittersweet miracle is still a miracle nonetheless. “And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini is a heart wrenching reminder of how intertwined souls can express the deepest compassion in the darkest of hours.
This emotionally raw narrative begins with 10-year-old Abdullah and his 3-year-old sister Pari. Abdullah lovingly cares for Pari in the war-torn Afghan village of Shadabagh, until the day their father, Saboor, gives Pari away to two would-be parents, leaving Abdullah grief-stricken. His visit to Pari’s Kabul home marks the last time the two will spend their childhood together.
But this one tragedy is just a single thread in a massive, interconnected generational web that has endured years of sorrow and strife. As the narrative unfolds, Hosseini will not only tell the stories of Abdullah and Pari, but also countless other siblings whose worlds have been torn asunder. In this novel, Hosseini lays bare the resentments and rewards that come with having a brother, sister or cousin.
Debts are a common theme throughout this book, from economic burdens to the weight that comes with having to shoulder the life of another human being. I read this book last December, when my parents and I were visiting my older brother in New York City. He was sick and so I assisted him while he recovered. In the process, I learned what it was like to carry such a burden on my shoulders.
Me and my brother didn’t talk with each other much, but by helping him with his troubles, we were able to strengthen our bond and grow closer after becoming quite distant from one another. I think that because of this, reading “And The Mountains Echoed” helped me mature and become a better person.
Another thing the novel does that is quite impressive is humanize people who would normally be considered inhumane. I can’t go into any detail without spoiling this amazing read, but what I can say is that this book isn’t just a cautious reminder of how the love between siblings will always be strong no matter how many devastating conflicts they have with one another, it’s also a cautionary tale about the dangers of labeling some people as “monsters” or “devils.”
We should stop treating these disruptive individuals with scorn and disdain, because no matter how bad they may seem, they still have family members they love and care for. We can’t make said family members suffer needlessly by rejecting and hurting the ones they look up to.
Hosseini is an author who pulls no punches, hitting you repeatedly where it hurts. Frankly, in my personal opinion, his ability to make his audience cry makes him a better writer. Oftentimes the goal of storytelling is to evoke powerful emotions in the reader. Furthermore, Hosseini conveys a poignant understanding of the effects of conflict on a community, including how it forces people to leave their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. Go pick up “And the Mountains Echoed.” It’s a soulful novel about reconnection and recuperation that will stay with you for years.