Wednesday, November 5, 2014

And The Mountains Echoed

We read this for our October Books & Bars meeting.  All of us had read and loved The Kite Runner and one of us had also read A Thousand Splendid Suns so this seemed like a perfect pick.  The overall feeling was it was not as good as the others but we all enjoyed it to an extent.  I did think it drug on in spots and was a little blah but the storytelling was good.  We also agreed that while The Kite Runner stuck with us long after we had finished, this just wasn't one of those books. 

Description: Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.

In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, 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

My favorite parts were probably Nabi's, Idris's and Pari's.  I really wish instead of learning about Markos and his background there would have been a section on Nila and her upbringing and her feelings after leaving Afghanistan.  It was interesting to see how all the stories were intertwined and how one decision can affect so many in different generations!

Since I know most of you have already read it, I thought it would be neat to share a couple questions and if you remember and want to share some thoughts, that would be great!

1. Ultimately, do you think Pari would have had a happier life if she had stayed with her birth family?

I don't think she would have had the same opportunities and I don't know if she would have been as happy with the life that she would have had with them.  Not to say life with Nila was ideal, but her adult life would have been far different. Of course she would have had her brother but life for girls in Afghanistan at that time in such a small village did not hold a lot of promise for her.  Personally, I'd choose the new life she was given over what her birth family could offer. 

2. The book raises many deep questions about the wavering line between right and wrong, and whether it is possible to be purely "good"—or purely "bad." What do you think after reading the novel: Are good intentions enough to create good deeds? Can positive actions come from selfish motivations? Can bad come from positive intent? How do you think this novel would define a good person? How would you define one?

Nabi was very selfish when he suggested adoption to Nila.  Good did come from that but it wasn't his original aim.  Parwana I struggle with her choices.  I don't think in her heart she was very pure or good. I also think bad things do come from positive intent.  And in the book Idris definitely experienced that when he got too attached to the girl but then didn't follow through because he wasn't strong enough. 

Which book of Hosseini's is your favorite? Have you read any other books set in Afghanistan and/or the middle east that you'd recommend?

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