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Book Review: And The Mountains Echoed 

By Margaret I. Cuomo, M.D, Guest Blogger | Published: April 30, 2014

And the Mountains Echoed can be compared to an intricate mosaic, having brilliant colors and various shapes, fitting together to form a unified and complex pattern.

Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, is a master story-teller. He focuses on the relationships between brothers and sisters, parents and children, husbands and wives and more in this compelling novel. The characters presented are Afghans, some of whom travel to Paris or San Francisco, and also, Greeks from the island of Tinos.

The author creates vivid images of an Afghan brother and sister, Abdullah and Pari, who are separated in childhood by their father, and also, of an affluent couple in Afghanistan who lead tragic lives. These individuals, rich and poor, are interconnected, profoundly influencing each other's lives. Three-year-old Pari is sold to a wealthy couple, and  leaves Afghanistan for a privileged life in Paris with her half-French adoptive mother, while 10-year-old Abdullah ultimately emigrates to California and opens a kabob restaurant. The separation of brother and sister traumatizes Abdullah, who yearns to be reunited with her.

The daughter of Abdullah, named Pari, after his lost sister, is determined to find her father's sister. Instead of pursuing her dream of attending art school, the younger Pari dedicates herself to the care of her father, Abdullah, who suffers from dementia in his old age.

Nila Wahdati, the beautiful, narcissistic adoptive mother of Pari, Abdullah's sister, is deeply unhappy, and is unable to nurture and support her daughter. Pari has the sense that Nila is not her biological mother, but she has no proof of it. Throughout her life, Pari senses "the absence of something, or someone, fundamental to her own existence." This vague feeling becomes stronger and clearer with age. Abdullah's daughter, Pari, finds her Aunt Pari through the internet, and sister and brother are reunited. Suleiman Wahdati, the husband of Nila, is an Afghan aristocrat, who lives a passionless life due to the Afghan moral code. Nabi, the garrulous uncle of Abdullah and Pari, engineers the adoption of Pari by the wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Wahdati.

The author also introduces us to Markos, a Greek doctor who devotes his life to helping the needy in Afghanistan, while neglecting his ailing mother on Tinos.

Other characters include two native Afghans, Timur and his cousin, Idris, who are living the good life in California. They visit Afghanistan and witness the misery of their countrymen. Their reaction to that suffering, and the choices they make upon their return to the United States, are surprising. It is another example of Khaled Housseini's craft in portraying the complexity of human emotions.

The interlocking stories created by Hosseini are distinct in their depiction of Afghan, Greek,  French or American culture. With power and grace, And The Mountains Echoed reveals universal human emotions, uniting us all in a marvelous mosaic that is the family of man.

About Guest Blogger Margaret I. Cuomo, M.D.

Margaret I. Cuomo, M.D., the author of AWorld Without Cancer, is a board certified radiologist who served as an attending physician in diagnostic radiology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., where much of her practice was dedicated to the diagnosis of cancer and AIDS. Dr. Cuomo is a contributor and a member of the Medical Review Board of the Huffington Post, and is also a regular contributor to WebMD. Dr. Cuomo addresses organizations and groups throughout the country, advocating  for the prevention of cancer.

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