Once you have written “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, it becomes difficult to match up to the expectations. The author Khaled Hosseini has tried it with “And the mountains echoed” and he had some success with it as well. The main story of brother Abdullah and sister Pari is very engaging and moving and just that storyline would have made it a great book. But the author got carried away with multiple other stories and I felt that he was not able to tie them together in the end.
Abdullah is ten and Pari is three years old when their father sells Pari to a childless and wealthy couple in Kabul. They do not meet again for next fifty years and their lives take different turns through the turmoil going on in Afghanistan and across the world. Eventually they meet in America but by that time Abdullah is sick and is unable to recognise her. There are other stories that run at the same time of loosely connected characters. The turmoil affects them all though in different ways. The house of Pari’s foster parents is witness to changing times and its own fortunes change along with it.
The narrative here goes back and forth and we look at story through the first person account of different characters. I have liked that kind of style of story writing but in this book it gets too broad and confusing at times. At the same time the book does manage to engage you with main characters and their lives. Even though the story takes place primarily in Afghanistan, it does cover Pari’s life in Paris in detail and provides a stark contrast between two different cultures.
Irrespective of how we find the book, the common people in war damaged regions keep on suffering and unfortunately we keep on creating more such regions with each passing year.