I can’t tell you how the author contrives that, but I always end up crying when I read his books. No, it’s not my hormones. It’s Hosseini. I generally don’t cry easily, but I simply can’t help it when I reach that point in his novels when the emotional load is at its highest peak. And of all three works I have read from this same writer, I think that , reading this one, I’ve cried the most. I do believe that you have no heart, if it doesn’t melt when you immerse yourself in this story.
After their mother’s death, the ten-year-old Abdullah is the one who takes care of his three-year-old sister, Pari. This is something which he does with very much love and dedication, his sister being the centre of his world. It’s seems like they don’t need more than each other. However, his father remarries, and finds himself in a situation where he cannot support his extended family any longer. He is more or less forced to sell little Pari to a wealthy, but childless couple. This development is very skilfully suggested by the very story which opens the book, of the farmer who has to give up his favourite little boy to the div*, in order to save his other children.
But that is only the starting point, the novel actually consist of a multitude of intertwined narratives. These are all ramifications of the initial story, and are taking place in various times and places, essential knots being provided by a few characters. Hosseini thus discusses lots of difficult themes, like homosexuality , independent women , and sexuality in general in a muslim state; the oppressive parent, the you’ll-never-be-as -good-as-I-am type, which ends up by crushing the child’s personality; orphaned children and children taken away from their families; rivalry between siblings; disfiguration and/or traumatic injuries in the childhood, and overcoming the trauma. At this point, you might be tempted to say, “Oh, this sounds like a heavy book.” Well, it’s not. The author manages to put all of these crucial subjects in a gripping narrative, which entices the reader from the very first pages. You get caught in this labyrinth, not being able to put the book down, until you reach the ending, where you finally return to the initial plot, fifty years later.
“So what’s with the feather in the picture?”, you may feel tempted to ask. “You never mentioned anything about endangered species, poultry farming or bird watching.” I won’t answer that one. That was my personal breaking point, when I started to cry, so I’ll let you discover for yourselves what happens with the feathers in the end.
*supernatural entity , with disagreeable characteristics (Persian mythology)