Review | The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Format: Trade Paperback, 400 Pages
Published: May 11, 2004
Genre: Fiction (General)
ISBN: 9780385660075
Age Range: 16+
Rating: 5/5

“I sat on a bench near a willow tree and watched a pair of kites soaring in the sky. I thought about something Rahim Khan said just before he hung up, almost as an afterthought, ‘There is a way to be good again.’”

Now in paperback, one of the year’s international literary sensations — a shattering story of betrayal and redemption set in war-torn Afghanistan.

Amir and Hassan are childhood friends in the alleys and orchards of Kabul in the sunny days before the invasion of the Soviet army and Afghanistan’s decent into fanaticism. Both motherless, they grow up as close as brothers, but their fates, they know, are to be different. Amir’s father is a wealthy merchant; Hassan’s father is his manservant. Amir belongs to the ruling caste of Pashtuns, Hassan to the despised Hazaras.

This fragile idyll is broken by the mounting ethnic, religious, and political tensions that begin to tear Afghanistan apart. An unspeakable assault on Hassan by a gang of local boys tears the friends apart; Amir has witnessed his friend’s torment, but is too afraid to intercede. Plunged into self-loathing, Amir conspires to have Hassan and his father turned out of the household.

When the Soviets invade Afghanistan, Amir and his father flee to San Francisco, leaving Hassan and his father to a pitiless fate. Only years later will Amir have an opportunity to redeem himself by returning to Afghanistan to begin to repay the debt long owed to the man who should have been his brother.

Compelling, heartrending, and etched with details of a history never before told in fiction, The Kite Runner is a story of the ways in which we’re damned by our moral failures, and of the extravagant cost of redemption.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a BuzzFeed article called ’26 Contemporary Books That Should Be Taught in High School’. I was intrigued to see what books I’d read, had made the list (if any) from when I was in high school. Shockingly, none of them were ever taught when I was growing up. Sure, I’d read Harry Potter & The Hunger Games, but never in school. As I read the accounts of each BuzzFeed contributor, I was particularly moved by the reviews for The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood), and The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) – So much so, that I went directly to my Kobo and purchased them.

I was not disappointed. I burned through The Kite Runner in under 2 days, and I could not get enough. The backdrop of the story is Afghanistan in the late 60s and 70s, and showcases the beautiful friendship of Amir and Hassan as they grow up together. Amir is a boy (and eventual man) of privileged birth – His father is a wealthy man who built an orphanage and helped his community. Hassan is not nearly as lucky as his friend. Like his father (Ali) before him, Hassan does not know how to read or write, and his life is dedicated to serving Amir and his family.

Their relationship takes a turn for the worse when an incident happens the year that Amir wins the kite flying contest (And Hassan, his kite runner, rescues the kite for his beloved Amir). Eventually, the boys part ways as Ali and Hassan refuse to serve Amir and his father any longer. From there, the book takes a darker turn.

Death holds sway over the characters in the novel, constantly reminding them that at any turn, life can change, and drastically. But even amongst the tragedy of the novel, Hosseini weaves such a wonderful story of love and friendship, that it makes you feel as if these characters are real. I’ve only ever cried at a handful of books, and this is one of them. It’s hard to describe how quickly I grew emotionally attached to these characters. Watching them suffer, and lose their loved ones, left an ache in my chest.

I would highly recommend that you check out this book. It has something for everyone – Love, Death, War, Friendship. It’s a touching book about the trials we face growing up, and how it impacts our lives, and how even the smallest of things, can stay with us forever.


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