Published: May 2003
Genre: Historical drama
Age Category: Adult
Source: Bought it
“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.
The kite Runner, by far, has got to be one of the greatest historical fiction novels I have ever read. Many could complain about the novel being far too calamitous, far too heart-breaking. But let’s not forget that the novel was set in 1975 Afghanistan and onwards (during the war) – a time of extreme hardships, suffering, and death.
And so I would agree, the novel was very heart-wrenching, and I can almost guarantee that at some point, you will probably end up in tears (as I did). But in my opinion, that is truly the beauty of this novel – it is that Khaled Hosseini effectively outlines the reality of war, the suffering of the people, the loss of humanity. He communicates to his readers that not every story has a happy ending, that the protagonist won’t always win. And he does a very good job at it, too. Because in all honesty, I can probably think of 3 or 4 books that have actually made me cry, and this is definitely one of them.
At the start of the novel Amir is a young boy, one who proves himself to be remarkably selfish and cowardly. I say this based on his relationship with his younger servant, Hassan, a boy who can be deemed the opposite of Amir. There is an odd and quite one sided friendship between the two in which Amir, being the rich, educated kid appears almost ashamed to be seen hanging out with Hassan, yet ironically, is jealous of and craves for the attention Hassan receives from Amir’s father.
Now because of this, I generally disliked Amir at the beginning of the novel, and it is his attitude towards Hassan combined with his arrogance that leads him, in a moment of desperation, to commit a serious act of betrayal. Hassan is a very innocent and naïve character. He is patient, loyal towards Amir, and is always prepared to protect him, although Amir is not willing to do the same. Now don’t get me wrong, Amir is not an evil character. He is merely a young, confused child who does not fully understand the consequences of his actions, and he did not intend to cause any significant harm.
But nonetheless, it all goes downhill from there, and it is not long before Amir and his father leave Afghanistan to the United States as a result of the war. But despite this, his actions and past come to haunt him continuously throughout his life. Until one day, a phone call from a close friend of his provides him with the opportunity to right his wrongs. His journey of honour, courage, and redemption is a remarkable one, consisting of many obstacles (maybe a little too much), but resulting in a complete shift in his attitude and character.
By the end of the novel, Amir is nearly a forty year old man – and he does redeem himself, just not in the way that you may expect.
Although I thought this novel was absolutely fantastic, I must say I was a little disappointed with the ending. Yes, I know, it’s a war book and it’s not meant to have a perfect, happy ending. But in my opinion, the last chapter is simply unsatisfactory. It was ended at a cliffhanger almost, and I genuinely think Hosseini could have done a better job and left his readers with far less questions.
But despite this, The Kite Runner is a book I would definitely recommend, especially if you are into historical fiction/war books and wish to learn more about the war in Afghanistan (trust me, you learn a hell lot). His other books A Thousand Splendid Suns and And The Mountains Echoed are also set in this context and are both good reads, so you might want to check them out too. Just be sure to keep a box of tissues nearby.
Thanks for reading!