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Teen SRC 2021 – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner eBook by Khaled Hosseini - 9781408803721 | Rakuten Kobo  United Kingdom

“For you, a thousand times over.”

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a historical fiction novel set in Afghanistan, and the United States. It follows the life and journey of Amir, the son of a a rich Afghan businessman, whom he calls Baba. Amir is rather sensitive and intelligent, and has a talent for storytelling. He and Hassan are best friends, having grown up together, but he is jealous of how Baba seems to favour Hassan over him.

This envy, combined with Amir’s ever-growing desire to prove his worth to Baba, leads to the unthinkable. He turns a blind eye when Hassan is sexually assaulted, and pretends he has not seen. Because of this, Amir is weighted with guilt, and for many years, he looks for a way to redeem himself.

The Kite Runner is one of those books that is felt deeply. It reaches into you and plays with your heartstrings. It evokes all kinds of emotions from you, from joy to heartbreak. For this reason, I loved it. It was a gorgeous, albeit devastating read, and it truly affected me. Hosseini writes with a distinct style that changes with the characters’ ages, and it genuinely feels as if I watched Amir grow up, making it all the more engaging. The characters are so well developed, and I especially appreciate the realism with which Hosseini depicted them. He makes you realize that the world really is all different shades of gray. That people are flawed; we’re not bad, we’re not good, we’re only human.

This book is also extremely relevant given recent events, and I am so glad I had the chance to learn more about Afghanistan and its people. The ending was very open, and I actually really liked that. It leaves a tinge of hope, because what happens next is up to us to decide.

Overall, I would rate this book a 9/10. I have yet to dislike a historical fiction, and The Kite Runner was no exception. I would recommend it to anyone who isn’t opposed to a heavy, emotional read that tackles many, many important topics.

Teen SRC 2021 – Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry


Call It Courage, a legendary adventure story by Armstrong Sperry, is a book filled with spirit and courage, despite its short length. The protagonist, Mafatu, is forced to overcome his fears and face the dangers of the world on his tiny canoe. Mafatu struggles with the two options he has on hand, either get made fun of in the safety of the island or try to prove his courage but at the same time risk his all.

Plot Summary and Background

Mafatu is the son of Tavana Nui, the chief of Hikueru island. Ever since his mother was killed by a deadly hurricane that ripped her canoe into bits, Mafatu dreads the ocean and is afraid to go near it. As a result, he doesn’t go fishing or sailing with the other boys, and instead spends his days making canoes and spears for them to use. Everyday, Mafatu is laughed at and almost everyone thinks that he is “only good for making spears.” When Mafatu turns fifteen, he decides that he’s had enough. He wants his father to be proud of him, and so, he sets off on a journey. Will Maui, the sea God, be on his side?

Things I Liked

Call It Courage teaches us many useful lessons. I think Mafatu’s determination and courage is what helps him go through multiple obstacles that otherwise would have ended up fatal. I also really liked how throughout the book there were lots of little glimpses inside the characters, and we get to know lots about Mafatu’s feelings. Another thing that makes the book really engaging is how we can clearly see Mafatu getting closer and closer to overcoming his fears. There are specific moments in the book where you stop and think to yourself; Wow, that was a really great moment of growth for Mafatu!

Things I Disliked

Call It Courage isn’t the most realistic book, and it’s not that easy to relate to. Other than that, there really isn’t much to critique about the writing, however there are a few warnings. To some people, the book may seem incredibly boring because of how much detail Sherry writes with; he rarely uses short sentences and is almost always describing things like the sun shimmering off the ocean, the scent of the wind on the island, and so on. When a storm hits, Sperry captures every detail and writes: “The sky darkened. A burst of lightning lit up the sea with supernatural brilliance. An instantaneous crack of thunder shattered the world. Lightning again, striking at the hissing water.” It creates a very visual effect and is a great way of showing the reader, but sometimes when you want to get to the exciting parts you first have to skim through this huge paragraph of description.


Call It Courage involves lots of emotion, and Armstrong Sperry paints so many pictures in your mind that it’s almost like watching a movie. Although I personally think that sometimes his descriptions get in the way of a very exciting plot line, I would recommend this book. It’s a bit like the shortened version of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, so if you liked that one, you’re bound to find Call It Courage very fascinating! 4 out of 5 stars.

Teen Book Review- Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea - Sepetys, Ruta

Ruta Sepetys is a tried and true author for me whenever I’m in the mood for some historical fiction, so I was really excited to pick up Salt to the Sea. The story follows four characters: Joana, Florian, Emilia, and Alfred as they race to freedom on the doomed (but they don’t know it) Wilhelm Gustloff. Joana is a nurse with a past that haunts her. Florian is a spy with too many secrets. Emilia is a young girl hollowed by the brutality of war, and Alfred is a cowardly German soldier. Will they survive?

It isn’t much of a secret that the Wilhelm Gustloff is going to sink, so when I first started the book, I expected it to be rather fast-paced. It was not. The characters don’t board the ship until well past the halfway point, which was more frustrating than suspenseful. The other fundamental thing this book didn’t quite accomplish were the characters. I wasn’t expecting this from Sepetys either, because her characters are usually very well-developed (see: Fountains of Silence). But in this one, the four main characters were almost stock character material. For example, we have the dark and handsome brooding spy, the innocent ‘child’ with dreams, and the misguided immoral soldier. The worst character in my opinion, was Joana because she had NO flaws. (And no, being too kind is not a flaw!) I know it seems like I’m contradicting myself, but I did like the characters. They just weren’t well-written and had almost no complexity, but they were very lovable in general. Which sort of redeems them.

Moving on to the pros: Something that the book did irrefutably well was story-telling. The emotions Salt to the Sea brought me were intense, which is exactly as they should be in a good historical fiction. Some scenes are so disturbing I had to put the book down–don’t let the middle grade styling put you off, this book is definitely up there in age suitability.

On a brighter note, though, I appreciated how this book executed the multiple POV style writing. The romantic side plot was also well done (I guess I just like slow-burns). But maybe that is because romance comes easily enough when the characters themselves aren’t complicated. The plot of the book was adequate, but I found the backstories of some (no spoilers but I’m not talking about Emilia, hint hint) characters very shallow and disappointing. The ending absolutely ruined me, but in a good way. I would recommend Salt to the Sea to anyone searching for a simple but emotionally difficult historical fiction with a handsome side of romance. 9/10

P.S. Can I just say I hated all of Alfred’s chapters? Because yeah, I did.