The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a heart-wrenching story of two boys Amir and Hassan, set in the backdrop of a changing Afghanistan with the overthrow of their government and the growth of the Taliban Regime, and how their lives are permanently changed because of being born in such tumultuous times.
Told in Amir’s voice, it is a beautifully woven tale where in the first half we live the lives of Amir, the son of a wealthy man, and Hassan, his father’s servant’s son, in Kabul, when Afghanistan was not war-stricken as it later became. Hassan is what you would call a truly devoted friend of Amir, whom the latter is secretly jealous of because he is aware that he is liked more by his father. Amir likes to write but a talent like this isn’t seen as manly then and hence is constantly rebuked by his father who compares him with the strong and brave Hassan. Hassan on the other hand innocently worships Amir. An incident then happens which fill Amir with guilt because he didn’t save Hassan from something terrible and it worsens when the latter doesn’t hold a grudge against Amir for the same. Wallowing under that guilt, the two friends distance and another incident makes the servant and his son leave their house. Amir though saddened by the departure of his friend is also relieved that he doesn’t have to face him again, he who is a constant reminder of his cowardice.
But the political atmosphere of the land changes and with the rise of Taliban, Amir and his father escape to the US and begin a new life starting from scratch. Years later, Amir is now a successful writer and married to another Afghan refugee like himself, settled and happy, though childless.
His hometown, however, is completely ravaged.
One day he receives a call from his father’s friend who is still in Kabul, asking him to meet him one last time. He takes the trip when he is told that there could be a way to redeem himself from his guilt.
There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. When you kill a man, you steal a life… you steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness… there is no act more wretched than stealingThe Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini
What is it that can be so profound, how does he go about it and will he get out alive from a country where he is a definite target for having abandoned it, forms the rest of the story.
In a setting that is fast-paced with situations both inside the house and out in the world they live in, this story opens itself in parts, shocking you in the little revelations as the author craftily goes back and forth his present and his memories. What I liked the most about this book is how human it is. How real in the way its characters feel. Every story doesn’t have a happy ending. Every mean act doesn’t have a mean intent. And everything doesn’t just fall in place. It takes time. And even then, it might not. That is the reality of life and that is precisely how this book is written. A little too real at times.
She said, ‘I’m so afraid.’ And I said, ‘why?,’ and she said, ‘Because I’m so profoundly happy, Dr. Rasul. Happiness like this is frightening.’ I asked her why and she said, ‘They only let you be this happy if they’re preparing to take something from you.The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini
The words ‘heart wrenching’ doesn’t do justice to how you feel when you are done with this book. I haven’t revealed the best part of the book, the second half, the reason for it all. It just wouldn’t be fair to you if you haven’t read this book as yet.
I know I say this of most of the books I have reviewed here, that it is a definite read. What else would you expect from a list that has the 100 best books ever written!
But this one, this story of a kite runner, is something every one of us has to read. Even if reading a book isn’t our hobby.
A good story deserves to be heard.