Author: Khaled Hosseini.
Every time someone asked to see the book, or hear its title, the general response was, “Ei, it sounds deep.” My response to that was: well, it is.
I cannot specifically tell you the subject matter of the book. It was not very defined, and it was winding through narrators, central characters and time zones. I think the skill I most admire in this author is the ability to effectively connect all the characters and times. The span was about seventy years, back and forth.
Without spoiling much, I want to touch on a few themes I identified and what I took from this book.
1. Hiding one’s feelings in fiction.
More than one character did this. There was one specifically closed-off character who never spoke emotionally save through the stories he “created”. Created here is in quotes because what the stories actually were, were foreshadowings of real life events he felt were too emotionally difficult to explain. It occurred to me that people actually use this in real life as a method of escape, but also a dry for help, and maybe we should pay more attention to the “creative” people we think we know. I myself am guilty.
There was another character who was actually a poet, and did similar things, except more lyrically embellished, as poets tend to do
2. Forgetting about passion because of distance
There are some situations that can hit you unbelievably hard, ad can make you feel, at some point, like dedicating your whole life to solving a problem. A certain character felt like this, when, on a trip to Afghanistan, he met a severely physically damaged, orphaned little girl. His heart was, as they say, in the right place. The closeness and reality of the tragic situation sank into him and consumed him with sorrow and the det3rmination to provide means to right the girl’s wrongs, upon his return to America. You could tell it was genuine. However, when he returned, he was swamped by work and engulfed in his own life. Then, gradually the gravity and personal feelings toward the situation began to fade. At a point, he actually started to wonder if his initial passion had ever been real, and why he had made such a senseless commitment. And humans, I am sorry to say, really do have this flaw. Once the problem is far away, it loses its personal relevance to us. We are, by nature, self-centred, thanks to modern life
3. Roots and identity, and family
There was a certain character who was, at a tender age, torn away from her brother. Throughout her life, she felt a metaphorical hole that could not be filled by anything, in her heart. The empty feeling would come upon her at random times, and its intensity only ever decreased after she got married and had children. After finding out she was adopted, she became almost obsessed with finding her origins – that is, until she began her own family after which this concern significantly lessened. I will include a quote from her:
“But it is important to know this, to know your roots. To know where you started as a person. If not, your own life seems unreal to you. Like a puzzle. Vous comprenez? Like you have missed the beginning of a story and now you are in the middle of it, trying to understand.”
The last thing I will add are two of my favourite quotes.
“I suspect the truth is that we are waiting, all of us, against insurmountable odds, for something extraordinary to happen to us.”
“I learned that the world didn’t see the inside of you, that it didn’t care a whit about the hopes and dreams, and sorrows that lay masked behind skin and bone.”
I will say that this book is not too long, but it’s not a fast read either. It’s too mentally engaging to gloss over.