The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a classic and rightly so. As someone who prefers fantasy and dystopian fiction to tales about people and the lives they lead, I was skeptical about delving into this novel. I had considered it a chore to read it for school, but once I started I couldn’t put it down.
I sat down to write this moments after closing the book, completing the final chapter. I’m still not off the emotional roller coaster it took me on. I have never read a book so full of raw emotions and the truth about humanity as this.
The story follows Amir, we watch him grow from an entitled guilty boy in Kabul, to an adult who atones for his sins. It is a pure story of friendship, loyalty, and regret. It shows us the power of redemption and doesn’t shy away from the truth.
Amir’s best friend is Hassan, their servant Ali’s son. Yet Amir and his father (referred to only as Baba) consider them a part of the family. Ali and Hassan are Hazaras and are looked down upon by society because of their ethnic and religious differences. Despite this Hassan and Amir share a kinship, but their friendship is often imbalanced due to society’s influence on their young malleable minds.
Amir also has a complicated relationship with his father and constantly seeks his affection and approval. He is a budding writer, yet Baba isn’t interested in his work and sees him as weak. So Amir seeks solace in Rahim Khan, Baba’s best friend. He is the true father figure in Amir’s life.
Some may consider Amir selfish, weak and inconsiderate. The way he treats Hassan is shameful, what he let happen is awful. But he realizes his faults and spends his life trying to rectify them.
The book is first set in Afghanistan and Hosseini describes Amir and Hassan’s childhood as fun and free. However when the military coup and the Russians enter the once-peaceful country, it all falls apart. Amir and his father are forced to leave and find a new home in America. It shows the sad truth of how war can reduce successful businessmen, doctors, professors and government leaders to beggars and vendors who sell knick knacks on the street for a couple of dollars.
Amir’s life in California should seem complete; he has a house, a booming career and a loving wife. Yet the ghosts from his past continue to haunt him. As he matures all he seeks is repentance, the chance to give back. In the end, he does set out on a quest for redemption and what happens would have made all the people he disappointed proud.
The book brings his story full circle with dramatic reveals that leave you in awe. The raw emotion it portrays is incredible. You feel along with the characters. You live their lives and that is one of the best things a writer can achieve.
The relationships between the characters are dynamic and honest. The novel explores the depth of personal connections and a variety of obstacles people face when interacting with others. The strife for a father’s love, treating others as equals, standing up to bullies and making amends…
It promises no happy endings, no sun-shiny days in meadows with all love restored. It shows that if you want to be at peace and live life knowing that you have made up for your sins, you have to make it happen. And if you’re lucky, you can make the sun shine on the meadow you mowed.
It is by far one of the best written books I have read and I think the author has done a fantastic job on this first novel. The only quibble I have is that I will never know what happens next to the characters I have become fond of.