I must admit I chose this book because of the title. I thought it was beautifully poignant, and it moved me to the core. It’s just a title, yet it made not only want to read it, but I also felt I HAD. I feel envious, though. I’m having so many problems with titles for my books. I’ve written one book and am writing five different ones currently and NONE of them have a title. I mean, they do have unofficial titles, just for me, but they are far from perfect. So, when I see a title like this, I get a little jealous. Maybe it’s actually not a great one, maybe it’s corny, maybe it’s just me who felt enchanted with it for some inexplicable reason. I don’t know, but I just loved.
And then I read the back cover of the book. It’s about a little boy and girl, siblings, who were separated at a very young age – she was three years old, and her brother was 10 years old. Another great fit. Give me anything connected with adoption, foster care, children separated from their parents or siblings, and I’m completely lost. I think I might be a little obsessive even in my case. This thing with abandoned or hurt or abused or fostered children. It’s not even personal, for I was raised in “regular” family of parents and sister; and I don’t know anyone who had such experiences in his or her childhood, so there is no explanation behind that. The truth is, however, it’s MY topic. I could never pass an opportunity on reading about this.
At the beginning the action takes place in Afghanistan. The brother and sister live in a small, poor village, in 1950s, and the giving away of the girl means she will have a better life with rich married couple without children of their own. Soon she forgets about her past and grows up to believe she is a biological daughter of her new parents. The boy, however, never forgets, and lives with the memory of his sister till the end of his life.
The first two chapters are my favorite part of the book. They were almost poetic, charming, fairy-tale like. The best of all the book. Then we quickly realize the book is a puzzle, where every chapter is a part of a bigger picture. There is a different protagonist, sometimes narrator, to every new chapter, but they are all connected to the story in general. I think this was a very interesting tool that the author decided to use. He created a lot of little stories and presented to us a variety or characters, each described in details. It’s challenging and fascinating, especially since we keep on wondering who’s going to be in the next one and how he or she will fit into the general story.
That being said, there was something missing – or rather there was too much of something. Maybe the author overdid it with so many characters and so many threads. When I read a book I like to connect to the protagonist, and here I had problems with this. As soon as I connected to one of them, their story was over, sometimes without a clear resolution, and we moved on to another one. The book was also stretched out throughout about half a century and took place in many countries, including Afghanistan, Greece, United States, and more. On the whole it made the impression that it takes place everywhere and nowhere in particular.
Nonetheless, I would recommend it. Despite “something missing” in it, I think it was poignant, beautifully written and carefully crafted. I certainly would give it a high mark. I heard that other books by the same author, “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” are better than this one, so for sure I will look for them in my local libraries.