By: Khaled Hosseini
Published: May 21, 2013
Hosseini has kept us waiting six years for another of his masterpieces and though the wait was long, it was worth it. He does not disappoint with his newest novel...really more a work of great literature. If you read his other books, THE KITE RUNNER and A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS, this book will rank right up at the top with the other two. If you are new to his writing, this book will cause you to put all your other books aside so you can read his others. He truly is a master at storytelling.
This book includes stories upon stories. Starting with a fable and then telling the stories of families over many generations and then by the end intertwining all of the individual stories into one. This is how the title of the book is worked in. I expected to find the title actually in the story, but the title actually explains the book. As you travel through each of the individual stories, parts of them "echo" into the next. At least, that is how I interpreted the title. That is what makes this book so uniquely beautiful.
When talking with a friend about this book, I described it as heartbreaking and yet, wonderful. Each of the stories were full of agony, despair, disappointment, suffering, or heartache, but they were also full of hope, happiness, and surrounded by a love and devotion for family. That devotion is what kept you turning the pages. The love of family is really what is at the heart of this novel. Brothers and sisters, cousins, and even friends who are all the family that the person has. The decisions, compromises and judgments rendered in each of their lives and the ramifications for future generations were mind-boggling. How Hosseini can create these stories is amazing and I am so glad he has shared his talent with us.
The stories are set in Afghanistan, Greece, France, and the US. There are stories of extreme wealth and severe poverty. The stories of poverty, especially in Afghanistan, were such a jolt to my easy life here in America. It was another humbling reminder (after going through a weekend of a "boil order" in our town) that there is truly so much suffering in the world that most of us have no grasp of. I truly am appreciating our community and our freedoms after reading this novel.
I could gush on and on about this novel, but I just don't want to give any more of it away. The main tip I would give you for this novel is to try to read it in a short period of time. I don't think that will be an issue because you will want to continue reading it. But, even after just a 2 day break from the book, it was difficult for me to keep all the stories and characters straightened out. The flow of the novel was a bit difficult at times because the flow of one story would stop and transfer to another story without much warning. There were several times in the novel where I had to stop and reread a page or two to get my mind on the right people. Keeping a character list might be helpful as you read along.
This was our book club choice for the month and it makes for an excellent discussion. The questions supplied on the publisher's website, although deep, were a good jump start to the numerous topics. Loss, separation, family, and forgiveness are just a few of the topics you could start with.
There were so many wonderful descriptions and ways to tell a story in this book. I could have practically highlighted something on every single page. I will give you just one example that when I read it, I nodded and said, "Exactly!".
"It was a hot day, the sun biting the skin like it had teeth." Page 301
If you like books full of description, emotion, and are character driven, run and pick up this latest book by Hosseini at your local bookstore or library. You won't be able to forget it.