The tale revolves around two children- Pari and her protective, older brother Abdullah in a poor Afghan village in the 1950s. Pari is sold to a wealthy, childless businessman and is separated from her beloved brother. What ensues is a touching tale of how the decision to separate the siblings has a ripple effect that echoes across the next two generations.
Like Hosseini's other two best-selling novels, this story is set against the backdrop of chaos and tragedy in Afghanistan. Pari, along with her mother Nila, relocate to Paris after the Soviet invasion. The story unravels across 60 years and touches on the sensitive issues of homosexuality and adultery. It also discusses the survivors' guilt of the Afghans who returned to Kabul after the war.
Hosseini has the rare ability to translate into words some shockingly raw and real emotions. His biggest strength lies in his apparent understanding of the human mind and all its pettiness and shame. He is, in my opinion more lyrical and fluid in this book than he was in his previous novels. "....a wave of something, something like the tail end of a sad dream, always swept through him whenever he heard the jingling.."
Hosseini does a good job of tugging at the heartstrings again. Pari, Thalia, Nila and the little-boy version of Abdullah stay with you long after you are done. Their characters are beautifully etched out and there is the right amount of emotion at just the right places as far as these characters go. Pari's helpless, hapless frustration about the 'something' that is missing, Abdullah's note and gift to her as soon as he learns that he might lose his mind soon, Amra's strength and loyalty, the younger Pari's loneliness, fear and hesitance to break free and fly, are feelings that will resonate with thousands of readers. While Hosseini's novels have never lacked in depth and richness of story line, you begin to wonder if his writing is getting cliched and one-dimensional. It is understandable that he wanted to gives us an in-depth look into the protagonists' lives, but there is simply just too much for the reader to process sometimes. Too many characters, too many sub-plots and far too many details clutter the book a little bit. It could have been a lot tighter and slicker. On the whole, it is a very easy, quick read with some startlingly insightful thoughts. -- “I now know that some people feel unhappiness the way others love: privately, intensely, and without recourse.” This is a book tailor-made for the Khaled Hosseini fan - Tender, emotional, riveting, tragic - a sure formula for success. While it is certainly enjoyable, it would be interesting to see him move out of his comfort zone.
Book Reviewed by Poornima Krishnan
Did you read this book too? Got an opinion on it? Share it!