And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini
Having read Hosseini’s other novels, I definitely had high expectations for this book before I even read the blurb. As I gradually got into the book and made some progress, I found it very different from his others and for me personally, not necessarily in a good way.
The story is essentially about brother and sister in a village in Afghanistan, Abdullah and Pari, who are inseparable and devoted to one another in their difficult circumstances. The pair are heartbreakingly separated at a young age and go on to live extremely different lives from one another. The story, however, is mostly told through the perspective of other characters who are linked to Abdullah and Pari, yet most of the chapters seemed to be intricate details of these other characters’ lives.
While it was an interesting and unusual, and very roundabout way of telling Abdullah and Pari’s stories, I found it felt more like a mini life story of far too many characters. As a reader you do get a very direct insight into certain aspect’s of Pari’s life; however, the majority of Abdullah’s life was summed up into a few paragraphs here and there. I think this book was a very intricate look at many different lives which were all connected in some way; and written very well, but it wasn’t the story I expected or wanted it to be.
Overall, I did enjoy this book, and though I didn’t love it as much as I loved A Thousand Splendid Suns, I would still definitely recommend it and perhaps I would have loved it more if I went in with no expectations.
The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul – Deborah Rodriguez
Another book set in Afghanistan but very different from the others I had read lately. This book was set in modern day Kabul, Afghanistan and was about Sunny, an American woman in her late thirties, who runs a coffee shop for expatriates living in Kabul.
The book is about five women who work and/or spend time at the coffee shop and is supposed to be about friendship and bonds between the women in the hardships that they face in Kabul. I liked the premise of this book, the strength and adversity of women and how they come together and help each other through their different trials.
This book was set in Kabul and yet only two of these five women were Afghan, which I guess annoyed me quite a lot. Furthermore as the book progressed, it was far more about Sunny and her love triangle between two American men working in Afghanistan. Considering the setting of the story, and the storylines of some of the other women; the last thing I wanted to read about was a love triangle between three Americans in Kabul. The stories of the Afghan women were definitely interesting and these were what I wanted to read more of.
This book was very lighthearted considering the setting and some of the events that took place, however, I could tell the author (who did live in Kabul) was trying to shine a positive light on it all. It was also very fluffy in the sense that everything seemed to work out perfectly in the end no matter what which I found very unrealistic and I guess I prefer stories with a bit more authenticity and grit.
There is actually a sequel to this book called Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul however, I have no desire to read it.