Ken February 2nd, 2008
I finally got around to reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini a few weeks back. It had been sitting on my shelf for several months–a few of them while I plugged through Don Quixote. I picked it up on a whim one evening in a bookstore…it was on sale pretty cheap, I’d heard someone mention it to me before, and it was a NY Times Bestseller. I read it in two days.
It is truly a sickness I have. I won’t walk out of a terrible movie in the theater, I don’t turn off a TV show I’ve never watched before until it’s done, I don’t fall asleep during movies, and I can’t go to bed if I’m enjoying a good book. I just HATE not knowing what comes next (I also NEVER read the ending before I’m done with the book–who does that?). So, after toiling through Don Quixote, it was a welcome relief to read a page turner like The Kite Runner.
The story is written from the perspective of Amir, an American immigrant from Afghanistan. While living in San Francisco in 2001, he receives a phone call that forces him to deal with his past. The story then unfolds on the streets of Kabul in 1975. Amir tells of his father, Baba, the rich, benevolent hulk of a man who is disappointed in his son’s relative weakness. Then there are Ali, the crippled Hazara servant who grew up with Baba and his hare-lipped son, Hassan.
Hassan and Amir are inseparable, even though there was a social stigma of a Pashtun socializing with a Hazara. The boys are around 12 years old and spend time doing the things 12 year old boys do. Reading stories, climbing trees and fighting kites take up most of their leisure time until the day of the kite fighting tournament. After competing in the tournament, both Amir and Hassan’s lives change forever when Amir betrays Hassan in a frighteningly cruel way. Shortly after this the Russians invade Afghanistan and Amir and Baba flee to America.
The story continues in America with Amir marrying and living a relatively normal life as an author until he receives that phone call from Pakistan in 2001. He goes to visit his father’s old friend who tells him of “a way to be good again.” Amir’s quest for redemption takes him to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where through a couple of convenient twists of fate, redemption comes.
I am a sucker for redemption storylines. My favorite movies are Braveheart, Good Will Hunting, and Shawshank Redemption. The books I’d have to take on a deserted island: Les Miserables, The Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia. The Kite Runner is very well done, gives a great picture of what Afghanistan used to be like before it was thrust into the national news, as well as a disgusting picture of what it was during the Taliban’s rule. Some of the later coincidences may test the novel’s believability, but all in all, it was a great read.