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Interesting,
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110 reviews

And the Mountains Echoed: A Novel
by Khaled Hosseini

Published: 2014-06-03
Paperback : 448 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 99 of 110 members
An unforgettable novel about finding a lost piece of yourself in someone else. Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices ...
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Introduction

An unforgettable novel about finding a lost piece of yourself in someone else.

Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.
 

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2013: Khaled Hosseiniâ??s And the Mountains Echoed begins simply enough, with a father recounting a folktale to his two young children. The tale is about a young boy who is taken by a div (a sort of ogre), and how that fate might not be as terrible as it first seemsâ??a brilliant device that firmly sets the tone for the rest of this sweeping, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting novel. A day after he tells the tale of the div, the father gives away his own daughter to a wealthy man in Kabul. What follows is a series of stories within the story, told through multiple viewpoints, spanning more than half a century, and shifting across continents. The novel moves through war, separation, birth, death, deceit, and love, illustrating again and again how peopleâ??s actions, even the seemingly selfless ones, are shrouded in ambiguity. This is a masterwork by a master storyteller. â??Chris Schluep

Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

And the Mountains Echoed introduces us to Saboor and his children Abdullah and Pari, and the shocking, heartbreaking event that divides them. From there, the book branches off to include multiple other characters and storylines before circling back to Abdullah and Pari. How do each of the other characters relate back to the original story? What themes is the author exploring by having these stories counterpoint one another?

The novel begins with a tale of extraordinary sacrifice that has ramifications through generations of families. What do you think of Saboor's decision to let the adoption take place? How are Nila and Nabi implicated in Saboor's decision? What do you think of their motives? Who do you think is the most pure or best intended of the three adults? Ultimately, do you think Pari would have had a happier life if she had stayed with her birth family?

Think of other sacrifices that are made throughout the book. Are there certain choices that are easier than others? Is Saboor's sacrifice when he allows Pari to be adopted easier or more difficult than Parwana's sacrifice of her sister? How are they similar and how are they different? Who else makes sacrifices in the book? What do you think the author is saying about the nature of the decisions we make in our lives and the ways in which they affect others?

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, / there is a field. I'll meet you there." The author chose this thirteenth-century Rumi poem as the epigraph for the book. Discuss the novel in light of this poem. What do you think he is saying about rightdoing and wrongdoing in the lives of his characters, or in the world?

The book raises many deep questions about the wavering line between right and wrong, and whether it is possible to be purely "good"—or purely "bad." What do you think after reading the novel: Are good intentions enough to create good deeds? Can positive actions come from selfish motivations? Can bad come from positive intent? How do you think this novel would define a good person? How would you define one?

Discuss the question of wrongdoing and rightdoing in the context of the different characters and their major dilemmas in the book : Saboor and his daughter Pari; Parwana and her sister, Masooma; the expats, Idris and Timur, and the injured girl, Roshi; Adel, his warlord father, and their interactions with Gholam and his father (and Abdullah's half brother), Iqbal; Thalia and her mother. Do any of them regret the things they have done? What impact does it have on them?

The overlapping relationships of the different characters are complex and reflective of real life. Discuss the connections between the different characters, how they are made, grow, and are sustained. Consider all the ways in which an event in one of the families in the book can resonate in the lives of so many other characters. Can you name some examples?

Saboor's bedtime story to his children opens the book. To what degree does this story help justify Saboor's heart-wrenching act in the next chapter? In what ways do other characters in the novel use storytelling to help justify or interpret their own actions? Think about your own experiences. In what ways do you use stories to explain your own past?

Two homes form twin focal points for the novel: the family home of Saboor, Abdullah, and Pari—and later Iqbal and Gholam—in Shadbagh; and the grand house initially owned by Suleiman in Kabul. Compare the homes and the roles they play in the novel. Who has claims to each house? What are those claims based on? How do the questions of ownership complicate how the characters relate to one another?

The old oak tree in Shadbagh plays an important role for many different characters (Parwana, Masooma, Saboor, Abdullah, and Pari) during its life. What is its significance in the story? What do its branches represent? Why do you think Saboor cuts it down? How does its stump come back as an important landmark later on?

In addition to all of the important family relationships in the book, there are also many nongenetic bonds between characters, some of them just as strong. Discuss some of these specific relationships and what needs they fill. What are the differences between these family and nonfamily bonds? What do you think the author is trying to say about the presence of these relationships in our lives?

And the Mountains Echoed begins in Afghanistan, moves to Europe and Greece, and ends in California, gradually widening its perspective. What do you think the author was trying to accomplish by including so many different settings and nationalities? What elements of the characters' different experiences would you say are universal? Do you think the characters themselves would see it that way?

Discuss the title, And the Mountains Echoed, and why you think it was chosen. Can you find examples of echoes or recurrences in the plot? In the structure of the storytelling?

Suggested by Members

Just pulled them off the internet.
by Robhok (see profile) 04/28/14

How would the story have been different if Pari had stayed in Afghanistan?
Why didn't Abdullah ever try to find Pari?
by barclaypld (see profile) 04/14/14

Lots of good, detailed discussion questions online.
by cpapuga (see profile) 02/12/14

What personal sacrifice would you make to secure a safe future for your children?
Historically people would allow their children to be adopted to keep them from starving. Would you?
by cozette1946 (see profile) 11/07/13

The book begins and ends with the "feathers" that Abdullah collected for Pari. What is the significance of the feathers and the imagery that it represents throughout the book?
by mfluke356 (see profile) 10/18/13

Explain the themes of expectation and disappointment in many of the characters' lives.
Discuss all the connections between the various, seemingly disparate characters.
by lwbeards (see profile) 07/24/13

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

From Publisher's Weekly:

Hosseini’s third novel (after A Thousand Splendid Suns) follows a close-knit but oft-separated Afghan family through love, wars, and losses more painful than death. The story opens in 1952 in the village of Shadbagh, outside of Kabul, as a laborer, Kaboor, relates a haunting parable of triumph and loss to his son, Abdullah. The novel’s core, however, is the sale for adoption of the Kaboor’s three-year-old daughter, Pari, to the wealthy poet Nila Wahdati and her husband, Suleiman, by Pari’s step-uncle Nabi. The split is particularly difficult for Abdullah, who took care of his sister after their mother’s death. Once Suleiman has a stroke, Nila leaves him to Nabi’s care and takes Pari to live in Paris. Much later, during the U.S. occupation, the dying Nabi makes Markos, a Greek plastic surgeon now renting the Wahdati house, promise to find Pari and give her a letter containing the truth. The beautiful writing, full of universal truths of loss and identity, makes each section a jewel, even if the bigger picture, which eventually expands to include Pari’s life in France, sometimes feels disjointed. Still, Hosseini’s eye for detail and emotional geography makes this a haunting read.

Book Club Recommendations

Keep notes when reading to avoid confusion.
by Start (see profile) 09/18/14

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "A good read!"by mabook (see profile) 11/24/14

Our book club liked "And the Mountains Echoed"; we found it enjoyable and a good read. It was the general consensus that the book should be read twice, because there are a lot of characters and intertwining... (read more)

 
by BarbChase (see profile) 11/22/14

 
  "Challenging but worthwhile"by sheilafri (see profile) 11/19/14

This book has multiple story lines which intersected on many different levels. It explores human nature in the context of war, family, and the nature (and mixture) of good and evil intentio... (read more)

 
  "And the Mountains Echoed"by Heathervw (see profile) 11/01/14

Each chapter was a new discovery, trying to figure out how each character fit into the grand scheme of the story. Very interesting to hear from all the different points of views & how one thing affects... (read more)

 
by mmoharrison (see profile) 10/19/14

 
  "And the Mountains Echoed"by Start (see profile) 09/18/14

This book had too many characters and situations that made it confusing at times. At the end, we saw how they related eventually to each other. Many of our members were confused as to which characters... (read more)

 
by cfunigiello (see profile) 07/28/14

 
  "And The Mountain's Echoed"by janet.sirhall (see profile) 07/16/14

Multi -generational with many characters whose lives intertwine throughout this saga. Can be confusing as it jumps back & forth in time, switching characters plot lines but it is beautifully written and... (read more)

 
by GloucesterMary (see profile) 06/26/14

 
  "Beautifully written"by gymbackmom (see profile) 06/23/14

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