Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed

16115612Do I even bother at this point an attempt to write anything else outside of what Leah from Fiction Fan Blog (taken from Goodreads) has so incredibly and eloquently stated here: (beautiful job Leah!)

Blown like leaves in the wind…

‘A story is like a moving train: no matter where you hop onboard, you are bound to reach your destination sooner or later.’

Within the first few pages of this book, the reader knows s/he’s in the hands of a master storyteller. In a village in rural Afghanistan, mid 1940s, a father tells a folk tale to his two young children. On the next day, they will travel to Kabul and start a chain of events that will take the reader on a journey across the world and through the decades.

The novel is made up of a series of linked and interlinked stories about members of this one family, their descendants and people whose lives they touch. Hosseini takes us back and forwards in time but each episode tells a whole story of one of the characters. This made the book feel in some ways like a collection of short stories rather than a novel, but Hosseini brings us round in a perfect circle and the last few chapters bring all these disparate episodes into one immensely moving whole.

The beauty of the writing is only matched by the humanity of the characters. Hosseini takes us inside their minds and their hearts and we see them laid bare, essentially good people but with their flaws and weaknesses exposed, to us and to themselves. Although much of the book takes place in Europe and America, Afghanistan remains at the heart of it because it remains in the hearts of the characters, even though they may have become part of the war- and poverty-driven diaspora.

A beautiful and very moving book that brought me to tears on several occasions, this isn’t fundamentally about politics or war; it is about the unforgettable people who populate its pages – about humanity. And though there is sadness and sorrow here, there is also love and joy and a deep sense of hope. Highly recommended.

Yes, yes, and yes. My weekend was spent completely and totally lost in the pages of And the Mountains Echoed. I achieved nothing else but the complete and 100% investment in this (beautiful, gorgeous, heartbreaking) story. I have yet to read Mr. Hosseini’s two previous novels and it is a correction that needs to be made and one that is often pointed out to me by fellow LH Jackie. A Thousand Splendid Suns is available on audio from our public library. You know what I’ll be seeking out very soon. First, I just want to continue to bask in the beauty of the tale of And the Mountains Echoed.

As well, whomever wrote the inside flap book’s description deserves copious amounts of praise. Did Mr. Hosseini compose this himself? It’s as brilliant as the book itself. So again, my words cannot compare to these that I’ll include in their entirety below:

“Broad in scope and setting, wise and compassionate in its storytelling. And the Mountains Echoed is a profoundly moving, captivating novel that demonstrates Khalid Hosseini’s deeply felt understanding of the bonds that define us and shape our lives -and of what it means to be human.

It begins with the heartbreaking, unparalled bond between two motherless siblings in an Afghan village. To three-year-old Pari, big brother Abdullah is more mother than brother.To ten-year-old Abdullah, little Pari is his everything. What happens to them – and the large and small manners in which it echoes through the lives of so many other people – is proof of the moral complexity of life. In a multigenerational novel revolving around not just parents and children but also brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which family members love., 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.”

5 heartfelt stars. What an exceptionally written tale of our connectivity.

There is also this cover which takes your breath away as it is perfectly captures a key moment in the story. The father carrying Pari on his shoulders, and Abdullah walking alongside. The yellow feather. Makes me cry all over again. 17345741

Book Review: The Dinner

15797938The Dinner certainly has had its fair place at the front of all the book outlets and reviews, here it is in the Globe and Mail, and the National Post too. I was seeing it everywhere and was hearing nothing but great and wonderful things about it. All were extolling the virtue and greatness of The Dinner, everywhere I turned, and yes, I do have to agree.  Even our friend Karli over at Typographical Era had many great things to say about the book, rating it a 5-star read. She devoured the book in one sitting, and I must say I wasn’t very far behind in that either! Suzy Suz on Goodreads also had this to say about it: A “grab you by the knickers” novel…the narrator, however unreliable, has you from the start!

And once again, I completely agree. This book is right now sitting with Jackie, as I had 3 days left before it needed to be returned to the library (one of those, “you only have 7 days to read this one!”). Jackie has been having difficulty finding one book to hold her attention and I believe has started over 6 books in one week! As soon as I closed this book and after exclaiming “Oh holy shi*!!” I  immediately sent a text message to Jackie telling her it was to be immediately dropped off as I’m for sure certain that this one will hold your attention!

The back of the book has many featured quotes from authors as they too extol the greatness of this read, and one of them was done by Gillian Flynn of “Gone Girl” fame. The Dinner was also being compared to Gone Girl quite often and okay, I can agree somewhat with that assessment, but up to only a point, as I must state my opinion that The Dinner is much, much better! It’s not a thriller, no, as you know what has happened, you know that it is the two sons of these parents that have done this, but it is their reaction, their attitudes, and how each feel the settlement of this matter is to be handled that will absolutely knock you off your chair! It is the shocking nature of their behaviour and discussion that rates the comparison to the shock value of Gone Girl.

Anyway, I cannot say too much about the story as it would just give far too much away. You simply must experience it for yourself. The set up of this book is fabulous. It takes place over the course of one dinner. It is broken down to the various courses of dinner: Aperitif, Appetizer, Main Course, etc. And rest assured reader, you will be glued to the pages, you will have your jaw hanging open and you will be thinking (always thinking!) about Claire, Paul, Serge, Babette, Rick & Michel loooooong after you close those pages! You will be thinking, playing it back over in your head, thinking, reliving. It’s a good, good, good read! You will be reflecting on what you would do, so yes, perhaps not in the manner that the Lohman’s handled it! But you will for certain be thinking, thinking, examining, rehashing and questioning their dilemma.

This was a work of translated fiction, but it reads like butter. No where are you left scratching your head over any confused misunderstanding or problems with the translated conversations. I’m giving The Dinner 5-stars. A great read and one in which I can’t wait for Jackie to finish reading so I can hear all about her reaction!

Just adding more tears: A Monster Calls

I don’t have much more to add to Jackie’s review of A Monster Calls at all. Actually, I don’t even think I can see the computer screen. Sometimes you just need that kind of book to let it all out. I bought a box of Kleenex recently and for no real reason (well at the time), we aren’t big Kleenex box people around here. I needed it today though. It’s been well used now.

No, I don’t have much more to say other than you really do need to read this book. And you can watch this wonderful Book Trailer for A Monster Calls here.

I haven’t cried this hard since reading this book, oddly, another Young Adult tale, The Book Thief. The trailer for that wonder is here for your viewing as well. Of course, as with A Monster Calls, please read the books. Definitely worth every moment of your time.