I have returned from the dead to bring forth a review of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This book was recommended to me by a friend in passing conversation. I came upon it by chance at my school library, and decided to check it out. I devoured the book in a day, and do not regret the sleep I missed because of it. But, that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.
Amir is the son of a wealthy merchant in Kabul, Afghanistan. His mother died giving birth to him, and he has continued to disappoint his father after the fact. His father wants a son that is into sports and one that can stand up for himself. Amir loves literature and is a self-proclaimed coward. Other than his unsteady father-son relationship, and his dead mother, Amir has everything going for him. Him and Hassan ( servant, best friend, and from the ethnic minority in Afghanistan) spend their days kite fighting.
Everything is perfect. Until the day it isn’t.
Betraying Hassan in the worst way, Amir’s life shifts on its axis. With Afghanistan’s monarchy destroyed, and the Soviets on the horizon, Amir and his father escape to America, leaving Hassan and his kind father Ali behind. Amir’s final act of cowardice against the person he once considered a brother.
Years later, Amir receives a call. The voice on the phone tells him “there is a way to be good again.” He journeys back to a land he doesn’t recognize to right past wrongs, and maybe find forgiveness along the way.
Told in a brutally honest and unflinching voice, Amir’s story is one that needs to be told. The Kite Runner is no feel good story, but it certainly is a good story. (haha, see what I did there 😉 ) Amir’s human nature resonated with me. He made mistakes, he still does. He faces the doubts, fears, and challenges of a normal person, but also ones that I couldn’t begin to imagine.
Apart from the beautiful writing, Khaled Hosseini manages to do something else that I found special. Afghanistan has been a land ravaged with war, and the atrocities that are still being committed to this day are not something every writer wants to include in their writing. But in The Kite Runner, Afghanistan is more than just a bleak setting for a story. Afghans are shown to be more than just passive victims. Hosseini manages to intertwine his story with the political landscape, to include every perspective, and to shatter hard-held stereotypes along the way. You don’t need to be a writer to realize that is not an easy feat.
The Kite Runner deserves 10/10 and I highly recommend it. HOWEVER, it is not an easy read, and it is not for everyone. There are scenes in the book of unspeakable violence and despair. It will make you cry. It will make you doubt whether humanity is really humane. All the more reason The Kite Runner is so important. (The only other books I can think of that come close are The Book Thief, and Code Name Verity, but that’s a conversation for another day. 🙂 )