Genre: Fiction / Historical Fiction
Published: May, 2003
Goodreads | Amazon CA / US / UK | Indigo
“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.
Rating: 3 / 5
Started: June 30th, 2016
Finished: July 2nd, 2016
Drink Pairing: Dark, black coffee and two sugars.
The Kite Runner has always been a book that seemed distant to me. Not just because of the geographic distance between Canada and Afghanistan or the religious difference between something-in-between-nothing and Muslim, but because The Kite Runner has always hung around my head for years in big, flashing bold Impact font. It’s whispered and beckoned like all the classics – The Iliad, the Odyssey, Frankenstein, The Divine Comedy – that sing like sirens and taunt their maturity. Their pages are full of stories and verses that make your head spin and your heart soar, and they tear down the walls you’ve built up and think you hide behind only to give you a stick and push you on a path and tell you to walk. You know they are great: partially because you’ve always been told they’re great, and partially because you want to believe them. Even though it isn’t right to fear a book that is on the other side of your wall I think that it’s okay to put it aside, let it simmer and wait until you warm to it, before picking it up.
The Kite Runner waited many years for me. I saw it on all the top, “Must Read!” lists and Gilmore Girls and Emma Watson has recommended Hosseini’s other works too – it’s constant praise is most likely what raised it to the level of classics (the comparison I’m sure many will not appreciate). Then finally one morning, I woke up thinking, “It’s time,” like I was staring in a Hollywood heist movie. Hidden away in my favourite used book shop I found my copy; a few weeks later I was savouring every page.
And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.
Despite our history together, as soon as I opened to the first page all preconceived notions and expectations evaporated. I was able to enjoy the book for what it is:
a beautiful fiction novel.
Amir is the son of a wealthy and highly respected businessman in Kabul, and Hassan is the son of his father’s servant. They have played together since they were born, flown and ran kites together in the winter, and climbed the pomegranate tree with their names carved into it. But personal histories only go as far as loyalties run, and Hosseini beautifully portrays the dynamics between father-son and childhood boys, and the power jealousy has over the fragility of friendships. As it was set in Afghanistan, the culture, history, and religion drew a beautiful and eerie back-drop of what life in Afghanistan was, and is, like as it contrasts with Western culture. There is even a brief glimpse into Afghan community life within San Francisco.
So was the build up appropriate for the book? In a way, yes. Hosseini’s writing was beautiful and captured my attention, I enjoyed savouring the pages and took my time reading them. The story and characters were diverse and spanned many years, there was growth and shortcomings, change and stagnation. And in a way, no. It’s not life changing like I was expecting it to be. Eye-opening, sure, and enjoyable, of course. But not quite the life changing read I was expecting. Though, is this really a bad thing? The Kite Runner is, after all, only a fiction.
For you, a thousand times over.
Do you come across many books that have a long-standing history
and set expectations, that turn out to be something completely different?