The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Published: May 1st, 2004
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Contemporary
“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.” Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. 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.
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“That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out.”
The Kite Runner was a story that emotionally broke me. I had to actually stop reading many times because the toll the story took on me emotionally. We follow the story of Amir from childhood to adulthood. From guilt to redemption. It was a beautifully written story that really pulled my heart in many directions. It was hard to read some of the things in the book and to reveal too much would spoil everything. The pacing of this book was really good for me. I wasn’t bored and I couldn’t put the book down only when I had to sleep or work. The point of view was from Amir the whole book and chapter 16 was Rahim speaking to Amir. It was completely easy to follow surprisingly for a story that wasn’t YA. It was a story of betrayal and redemption. Also, I really enjoyed seeing the love stories that were a small portion of the story and not the main point. I want to read more stories that focus on friendships, especially male friendships like the beautiful one in this story. If you haven’t read this story then I really recommend you do when you get the chance.
“For you, a thousand times over!”
“Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors.”
There are many plot points and themes that intertwine together. One thing I like is how the author plays with the theme of what “real men” are. Often times boys are taught not to cry, play sports, don’t read, toughen up, etc. It was an interesting dynamic that we saw in the book a lot. Also, in many Middle Eastern, Asian, and even my culture parents sometimes like to pen out their children’s lives. Although a child is an extension of the parent they are NOT them. The author works with this theme as well. We also see the struggle of a father and son as they try to understand one another and come to realize they are more alike then they know. There was also the political plot of what was happening in Afghanistan and how people treated Hazara’s like Hassan and Ali. The major turning point in the story was when Hassan is raped by Assef and Amir is too paralyzed by fear to do anything. From that point on the story really shifts. The plot twists really make the story memorable as a political story and personal one. It shows how our childhood actions can affect our adult lives. My favorite plot point I think was Amir realizing that Baba always worried about him not defending himself because then he wouldn’t stand for anything.
“I loved him in that moment, loved him more than I’d ever loved anyone, and I wanted to tell them all that I was the snake in the grass, the monster in the lake. I wasn’t worthy of this sacrifice; I was a liar, a cheat, and a thief.”
The Kite Runner gives us a lot of details about the rich Afghanistan culture (vocabulary, food, clothing, ideologies, politics, how they marry, their customs, and events.) The writing was a serious page turner and extremely descriptive but not in a boring school book way. It just made everything very vivid and gave you an understanding and empathy for the people of Afghanistan. The culture really came to life on the page and it captivated me and at times disturbed me but in a good way because I think sometimes we need to take a walk in someone else’s shoes. I don’t live the life Amir spoke of for his people but I got a glimpse of it and it was heartbreaking. He has beautiful and simple prose and it was just a raw and excruciating read at times but very necessary.
“Not a word passes between us, not because we have nothing to say, but because we don’t have anything—that’s how it is between people who are each other’s first memories, people who fed from the same breast.”
Amir was a sensitive insecure, book lover who was riddled with guilt and just wanted to be close to his father. Baba was Amir’s father and he was not religious, multi-layered, stern, brave, and we rarely saw him cry but when you did it was raw. Hassan was Amir’s friend and later we learn half-brother. He was loyal, soft-spoken, peaceful, slow to anger, loving, compassionate, and brave. Rahim was Baba’s friend and the man who always pushed Amir to be a writer and cared for him immensely. Sohrab was Hassan’s son and he was a boy that saw too many things and experienced things that NO child should ever have to experience. Soraya was Amir’s wife and she was a tender and kind-hearted woman who was a great woman to Amir. Assef was a child rapist, murderer, and there is a special place in hell for men and women like him. He was Amir & Hassan’s child bully and grew up to be apart of the Taliban. Khaled Hosseini really gave a lot of these characters many layers & dimensions.
“Hassan and I fed from the same breasts. We took our first steps on the same lawn in the same yard. And, under the same roof, we spoke our first words. Mine was Baba. His was Amir. My name.”
My favorite thing about reading about Middle Eastern culture is the dynamic of male friendships. They say I love you, the hug and kiss on the cheek, they cry and vent to one another, etc. All the while their masculinity and sexuality are never questioned. Why? Because caring for a friend and actually showing it doesn’t make you gay. Living in America I hear it all the time. Men in western culture are afraid to actually be a friend to someone because then everyone assumes they must be gay. And that is why the friendship between Amir and Hassan, Baba and Ali, Baba and Rahim, etc. are all special to me because being a friend shouldn’t be tarnished. Amir called Hassan a prince and kissed him on the cheek, Hassan is loyal to a fault to Amir and many times says the line, “For you, a thousand times over, they hold one another, they loved one another, and they never questioned it. The dynamic of their friendship was complex and filled with guilt on Amir’s part and the walk to redemption for him comes full circle.
“And I dream that someday you will return to Kabul to revisit the land of your childhood. If you do, you will find an old faithful friend waiting for you.”
*Cue tears* Read this book if you haven’t. It is one of those books that needs to be read at least once.