Title: The Kite Runner
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Genre: Literature, Adult, Historical-fiction
Published: 2004 by Bloomsbury
Plot: 1970s Afghanistan: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal best friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to an Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.
Review: My first piece of advice would be to not read this book if you’re sensitive, squeamish or upset by a troubled life because this book is not for the faint hearted. Personally, I’m a rather sensitive person and the book has made me cry countless times that I care not to count.
This was me…
However, this does not mean to say it is not a fantastic piece of literature. It falls into that category where you find it hard to place other than stand alone literature. It’s heart felt and full of deep sorrow, it explores the workings of Afghanistan and opened my eyes to the real cultural split. I’d never heard of a Shi’a or Sunni muslim, a Pashtun or Hazara before reading this book. I lived in blissful ignorance until this book pushed me to research the Afghanistan culture. For me, this is Hosseini’s most profound message if nothing else you gain from this book: an understanding of Afghanistan.
This book it told through first person narrative, and looks through a life of a child from the eyes of a matured, tortured adult. Hosseini works the first person narrative well and we find ourselves drawn out into Amir’s isolation with him. One finds it hard to forget that Amir is indeed an adult when we are told of his childhood, because the language isn’t simplistic or patronising, it’s that of an adult retelling his childhood. It’s certainly effective for the storyline.
Amir is definitely a hard character to like, and I think it is entirely personal opinion whether you like him and sympathise or whether you despire his character. Personally I felt for his character deeply, and my heart went out to the little boy who was troubled. The first-person narrative aids stepping into his life and I feel without that, then Hosseini would never have effectively given us into the torment and torture that faced Amir. He’s certainly a troubled little boy who’s actions are motivated by his desire to please and gain the love of his father. It’s all rather sad.
Hassan on the other hand, represents a happy little boy who shows the innocence of the world and encaptures the heart of the reader. He’s insightful despite his naivety and he has a gift of kite running. His story certainly had me sobbing throughout the whole story and he faces some real hardship. However his loyalty and kindness are in the end a downfall for him.
Rahim Khan a character we meet as Amir’s first grown up friend is the all-knowing, insightful adult of the tale who is the voice of reason and ultimately the brains of the story. I grew to feel great affection for his character and I felt that as a secondary character, he was imbedded well into the story.
Baba is another complex character like Amir. He is Amir’s father and another tortured soul. Once the story progresses our perspective of the man alters and changes into something rather different and I still find it hard to retain an opinion of the man, even after reading the story twice. He is a character I neither like nor dislike.
It was interesting for once to see a book that had a real link to the title and something that reoccured throughout the story. Sometimes I find authors name a book and never truly think to the name. This one worked effectively because Hassan is ‘The Kite Runner’ however, so are thousands of other people. I liked that touch of the story and title linking.
The plot is certainly difficult to handle at times because Hosseini doesn’t shy away from sensitive subjects such as death, rape or abuse. He handles everything in a sensitive manner that still manages to shake you to your core. I don’t think I’ll ever read a book quite like ‘The Kite Runner’.
This book does not have the happily ever after that I find myself reading so often. We tackle the grit, gore and profound reality of life in Afghanistan, before and after the Taliban. The effect they had and the nature of them. We see into Afghanistan and the cultural shock was certainly there for me. Hosseini really hits home with his message in this story and with a man from Afghanistan compared with the international news published to us, I find it hard to discount his word against those of the media. This book is sure to stick with you a long time after reading, it weighs heavy on the heart, but ultimately I feel better for having picked up the book and read it.
I’ve been unfortunate enough to see the film interpretation and I urge you, the book is a thousand times better than the film. There are so many things that the film inadequately covered or skipped out for me, that I urge you, don’t watch the film, read the book! In this instance, the book is far better than the film.
Finally, I’m hoping to read Hosseini’s next novel soon, ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ which focuses on the plight of women. After this emotional roller-coaster in ‘The Kite Runner’ I can only hope that Hosseini lives up to all his hype that was created around his first novel, in the second.
I hope you take the time to have the experience of reading ‘The Kite Runner’ because it’s not a book to be missed!
By the time I’d finished I was more of a….
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