The novel begins with a bedtime story told to two young children, Abdullah and Pari, whose father is facing a difficult and morally challenging situation. In this story, a mythical "Div" takes children away from parents, and says "when you have lived as long as I have lived, you find that cruelty and benevelonce are but shades of the same color." The incident that follows becomes the crux of the whole novel, as the author explores the extremely close relationship between these two siblings, as well as those in the world around them. The love between Abdullah and Pari is so well described it is heartbreaking when they are separated. In another story, the relationship between Nabi and his boss is also extremely well explored, with many levels of love and frustration. However, there are too many stories being told here, with less depth than in Hosseini's other novels, and the result is somewhat disjointed. While we see the pain these siblings are facing, we just can't get invested as much as we want to, because the story strays away from them too much. Other parts of the novel, while fascinating, are given cursory glances -- and end up taking away from the central story instead of adding a deeper level. Perhaps the stories also span too much time and too much distance, going from the 1950s to 2010, from a village in Kabul to San Francisco, Paris, and even Greece.
Overall, I felt the relationships and characters could have been much more well developed, and there seemed to be an unfinished air to many of the stories. On the other hand, this book does read very well, is a captivating story and while it is deeply sad, there are many glimmers of hope. As one of the characters says, "She is my flesh and blood. And soon I will meet her children, and her children's children, and my blood courses through them too. I am not alone. A sudden happiness catches me unawares. I feel it trickling into me, and my eyes go liquid with gratitude and hope."
Did you read this or any of Hosseini's other books? Which was your favorite?