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Thursday, December 18, 2014         

BOOK REVIEW


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Family ties define touching tale of 'Mountains Echoed'

By McClatchy News Services

POSTED:



The story that Khaled Hosseini tells in "And the Mountains Echoed" is one of loss and love — in that order.

At its heart, this tale spells out what happens when a brother and sister are torn apart as children — a father's choice to do what he hopes is the right thing.

But for Abdullah and Pari, children in 1952 Af­ghani­stan who have lost their mother and now have a stepmother and a new half brother, the separation defines their selves and their survival.

"And the Mountains Echoed"

Author: Khaled Hosseini

(Riverhead; 402 pages; $28.95)

They are not the only siblings separated in Hosseini's first novel since 2007's "A Thousand Splendid Suns." Their stepmother and her twin sister are separated by death; she also loses her brother, Nabi, when he moves to Kabul.

But Nabi plays a crucial role in his sister's family. Working as a chauffeur and houseman for a well-to-do, childless couple, the Wah­da­tis, Nabi introduces Nila Wah­dati to his sister and her poor family.

<t-6>Nila, who cannot have children, is enchanted by the little girl, Pari. Later the girl is "adopted," escaping the poverty of rural Af­ghani­stan for the wealth of Kabul.

The moment of separation, when Pari realizes she is being taken away from her brother, is painful even by Nabi's recollection:

"I will never forget the sudden emotional mayhem. Pari slung over my shoulder, panic-stricken, kicking her legs, shrieking, ‘Abollah! Abollah!' as I whisked her away. Abdullah, screaming his sister's name, trying to fight past his father."

So while Pari grows up being told she is the Wah­da­tis' natural child, she always remembers fragments from before.

Readers get a full picture of Pari's life — her marriage, her children and other relationships — while learning less about Abdullah.

It's only toward the end of this beautiful tale of family that Hosseini reveals more about Abdullah, still devoted to his long-gone sister and still, somehow, hoping they will be reunited.

"‘She was perfect,' he would say."

The same might be said of this novel.

--Amanda St. Amand / St. Louis Post-Dispatch






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