I Used to Read All The Time: And The Mountains Echoed

So, I graduated from my Master’s program in May (woo hoo!) and extremely promptly went to work back at a local community college. I’m NOT teaching – it’s not my passion (although I am pretty damn good at it). My day job is a mix of web stuff and grant writing, which fits in nicely to that little niche I built for myself during my school days.

I kinda’ hit the ground running which has meant all my “summer catch up” stuff got pushed off a bit until I settled down. But things are starting to slow ever so slightly AND I found a little group to do an informal book club with. So I’m back to reading for fun.

It’s been a long time. And I’m excited to read for fun. I like it.

Just finished And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. It’s about a bunch of people in and around Afghanistan. Each chapter follows a different character, and each occurs in a different time period. First chapter is 1952, third chapter is 2006, fifth chapter is in the mid 1990s.

Man Review: Don’t bother.

Actual Review: I’m a fan of this kind of narration. It makes me work for the story a bit more, and I feel like I’m discovering pieces of a puzzle with every chapter I read. It’s not to everyone’s taste I think, but it’s certainly to mine. It made for a bigger payoff at the end, the fact that I was able to notice and remember little snippets from here and there throughout the book. When they were all brought together (subtly) I was able to recognize what was going on and delight in it.

Part of my appreciation for this story also came from the fact that it wasn’t all based in Afghanistan. There was a lot of travel; there were many other settings (US, Greece, France). This kept the story from relying too heavily on the “war torn Middle East” trope, which was nice.

The other people in my group who read this tale reported crying at a few different points. Can’t say I shed any tears but I did get a solid lump in my throat on the last two pages. If they were tears, they would have been relatively happy tears.

Well, maybe bittersweet tears.  It was a bittersweet throat-lump.

Most interesting relationship of the book was the relationship between Pari and her Maman. Hosseini successfully created a complex character in Maman – a narcissistic woman who is desperate for love and uses her child as an emotional stand-in for adult relationships. Reading about that particular character was both troubling and fascinating.

Overall, this was a novel I enjoyed. I would not have picked it for myself and I probably won’t read it again, but it was good while it lasted.

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