July online ebook club wrap-up: And the mountains echoed

This month’s chosen ebook club selection was And the mountains echoed by Khaled Hosseini. Hosseini rose to fame with his first novel The Kite Runner and followed it up with the equally impressive A thousand splendid suns. After the success of these novels Hosseini had a lot to live up to with his latest book and there have been mixed opinions on this.

Personally I really enjoyed the book but I didn’t find it as compelling as his first two novels. This is largely because the book is written in a different format. It is written as a series of short stories following a variety of characters around the world and across different time periods. All of these short stories revolve, and are connected to, a larger story about a brother and sister that are torn apart in Afghanistan in the 1950’s. The short story format means that you do not get the chance to get as close to the characters as you would have liked which I think is what separates this book from Hosseini’s other novels. In saying that, the stories are so beautifully written and the characters so vividly depicted that I couldn’t help but be drawn in and was a little disappointed when each chapter ended. Hosseini could easily write a whole novel about each of the characters.

The novel was essentially about the relationship between siblings or those as close as siblings. It explores issues of love, rivalry, jealousy and sacrifice. I have siblings I’m quite close to so I found it easy to relate to a lot of the issues and emotions in the story – both the good and the bad. I found the theme of sacrifice for reasons other than good intentions particularly interesting – the way one sister sacrifices her happiness to look after another sister out of guilt; or the way a daughter sacrifices her future to look after an elderly father out of a sense of duty and fear of moving on. It highlights the idea that goodness may be more than just thinking and doing the right thing – it might be about doing what you inherently know if right even when you don’t want to. I think this makes the characters more grey and more realistic than if they’d been depicted as a purely good sister or child.

Overall I thought this novel was extremely interesting and thought-provoking.

What did you think?

Did you like the new format of this novel?

Let us know in the comments below.