A beautiful read. The book tells the story of an Afghani brother and sister – Abdullah & Pari, separated from one another at young ages – by presenting the perspective and stories of people either directly or tangentially involved in their lives. It is an interweaving: a fabric with at once golden and frayed threads. The book takes us to Afghanistan, to the fictional village of Shadbagh and then on to Kabul where bombs eventually fall and man-made craters fill the psyche. We’re transported to Paris and to Greece and to Hayward and San Jose in California and, ultimately, back to Paris, again. But, in every setting, I think, the soul of Afghanistan stands as a beautiful, horrible backdrop. I was particularly touched by Nabi’s letter to Mr. Markos; the words and shame of the humbled, Americanized Afghan physician; the soccer-playing boys in the Shadbagh orchard; of Pari’s stepfather’s paintings of giraffes on an old yellow wardrobe; and of Abdullah’s mind and Pari’s hands (but I will come no closer to that last point for fear of spoiling).
This book does not shy away from the injustices trounced on innocents. There were times while reading that I was pierced by the unfairness that permanently marred (sometimes literally) individual lives.
But, thankfully, though, the book does not fail to remind us that love ultimately underscores and overwhelms tragedy.
If we let it.
And, that is the genius of this book. If it weren’t for love, the devastation would be unbearable and unreadable.
But, with it, the story becomes something almost transcendent: a tapestry not to hang on a wall and admire, but to wrap around ourselves and warm our souls.