“This is Khaled Hosseini's 3rd book. I've enjoyed all 3, but I still think Kite Runner is the best. I found this book to be a quick read, although the story gets a bit complicated. It starts with a very poor family in a village in Afghanistan. One of their relatives works for a wealthy couple in Kabul. They are childless. They agree to adopt the youngest daughter of the poor family. The story traces the lives of the members of this family, as well as the wealthy family and the house they live in. It spans a lifetime.”kathy w wrote this review Thursday, July 11, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The author attempts another form of telling this story in this work, with separate stories across the time spanned by the whole centred on various characters and woven together by the common thread of the narrative. So one gets a deeper understanding of each one, for the duration, and a comprehensive one of the whole.
In his previous works too the author has made one aware that terrible doings are not necessarily patented by any one particular sect or organisation, and instead are rather a part of human characters that some choose to succumb to or indulge in while others stay clear of or rise above. In this one too, while he does not refrain from mentioning the atrocities by various politico-terror organisations, he brings out horrors perpetrated by people for private reasons that are as mundane as division of property within the family and clan, or stealing property that belongs to someone now poor and in need of it.
The stories take one across the world with the characters forced to or choosing to travel, migrate and take refuge in various countries for various reasons, usually seeking to find peace that they can live and prosper in. There is cultural diversity therefore, and a kaleidoscopic change of shifting patterns as people from Afghanistan, France, Greece and US move back and forth across, bringing their own cultures and languages and meeting others of diverse backgrounds.
And of course he depicts goodness and nobility of human characters, but not in expected ways or places, rather more in a variety of ways small and large. Often good comes accidentally to someone despite it being not quite clear that such was the intention, for an obvious example when a woman of mixed French and Afghan background who is rendered incapable of bearing her own children - due to some medical procedure she underwent early - adopts a little Afghan girl from a poor family, and eventually takes her to France to live in an attempt to survive. Whatever the loss the girl suffers of her family and connections, it is obvious it is good for her not only for survival but blossoming of a life and mind that would have been unthinkable back home with her family had she not been taken away.
One rather wishes the story would go on and fill gaps left about various characters, and go further, the way one wishes a just finished cup of coffee or tea would continue for a while longer. Perhaps the author would do so at that and tell us what happened to everyone. And this is the success of his work.
In an amazing detail he makes the little Afghan girl of poor farmer family adopted and brought to France to grow up to not only choose Mathematics for her studies but do well enough to go on to be on faculty in Paris and retire only for reasons of health, and have a good life with a family meanwhile with a French husband and three children of her own to boot, with grandchildren galore yet. And the details mentioned of her work in Mathematics are meticulously done so it is not ridiculous either.
It takes someone with some familiarity of the world of science and of western social life to know what a miracle he has painted so very casually. Not because this woman is of another culture, another race, but simply because she is a woman, and west does not tolerate women with careers without penalty of family and peace of mind in any field, even fashion that one would think would be a womens' own field, much less science which is seen as male club and Mathematics which is the very central ivory tower therein.
“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.”
“Lovely writing and great characters but not as compelling as previous books.”R. Rich wrote this review Wednesday, July 10, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I loved this book! Hosseini is such a great storyteller. The story starts out with a brother and sister in Afghanistan who get separated. The author tells the stories of different people who are connected to the brother and sister. This book was maybe a bit more disjointed than his other two - the stories did not meld together quite as much, but still, the stories were wonderful and interesting. It did tie together in the end.”Susan K wrote this review Wednesday, July 10, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Book Club Book- loved it!”Kara K wrote this review Wednesday, July 10, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I would have loved this book more if there were not so many different stories. I would get engrossed in a character 's story and then switch to a new one too quickly. ”Cindy S wrote this review Wednesday, July 10, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Colum McCann wannabe. ”Anna S. wrote this review Tuesday, July 9, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I liked his first 2 books a lot -- could hardly wait for this one to end. Would not recommend it. ”Linda S wrote this review Tuesday, July 9, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“For me this was a highly complex book to read. It would have been so helpful if I had kept a running list of characters and their connections to each other, as there were no unimportant characters. There were so many plots within plots, different first person speakers, and time/place/character switches sometimes on the same page. I found myself thinking as I was reading, "Now, who is this?" On the positive side, there were many beautiful "stories" that I felt compelled to complete the book.