Review: The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Published May 29, 2003
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literature
Buy this book from Amazon

I read this book in paperback.

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashums. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

The movie adaptation of The Kite Runner was released on December 14, 2007 (USA) by DreamWorks Pictures.  (Available on Netflix through online streaming)

“For you a thousand times over.” pg. 67

If there was a tally kept for the book most recommended to me, The Kite Runner would win, hands down.  I was a sophomore in high school when Khaled Hosseini’s debut novel was published and I remember people in my Honors English class talking about it.  For a whole decade, acquaintances would recommend it and I, idiotically, dismissed it.

Because if I’m being honest, as a hopeless romantic bookworm in my teen/early 20s, I wasn’t interested in reading a book without a love story if it wasn’t required by the professor.  It just didn’t seem like a fun book to read.

Well, the joke was on me.  But!  I was right on one thing: “fun” wouldn’t be an adjective I’d use to describe my experience in reading this book.

This book.  Damn this amazingly captivating book.  To say that I was moved by The Kite Runner would be an understatement.  This book wrecked me.  It transported me to another world–one I wasn’t ready to get sucked into, one I wasn’t mentally prepared for.

From the very first page, Hosseini makes no attempt to capture the audience with his protagonist’s admirable qualities.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  As a reader, you get the sense that the narrator is baring his soul, no matter how imperfect it is.  And I can’t tell you how much I appreciated this, this type of simplicity, this type of honesty.  The words just felt so genuine.  And when it came to the actual events of the story, you felt it that much more.

Khaled Hosseini is an epic storyteller.  The sense of foreboding he builds up.  The completeness of his character arc.  70 pages in and I was bawling.  Not the cute kind of crying when tears fall from the sides of your eyes.  No, this was shortness-of-breath, need-a-tissue-to-blow-my-nose-because-I-can’t-breathe type of crying.

The Kite Runner didn’t only make me envision two little boys running around the streets of Afghanistan.  Or a country left in turmoil.  The author did all that and more.  This book made me think about things I don’t generally think about on a daily basis: honor, salvation, redemption, allegiance, loyalty.  Issues that seemed better suited for a different time.

I’ll admit I was wrong about something else.  This novel IS a love story.  Just not the love story I expected.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced read with biting dialogue, The Kite Runner may not be the book for you.  At least not right now.  But if months or even years from now, you find yourself itching to read something different, something that will force you to feel, something that is more life-changing than entertaining, consider the book that made Khaled Hosseini one of the best contemporary writers of our time.

Because The Kite Runner is one of those books that transcends your entire being.  A novel that not only brings you to the brink of tears because you empathize with the characters so deeply, but more importantly, it affects the way you perceive the world because somehow it changes you, down to your very core.

Khaled Hosseini was first inspired to write The Kite Runner while he was watching CNN and it was reported that the Taliban had banned kite flying.

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