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The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: Worth a Read or Not?

Author:

Definitely Worth a Read

If you are looking to read something dark and depressing, but that's a masterpiece, The Kite Runner is an important tale of courage, atonement, devotion, and redemption.

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Intro

Title: The Kite Runner

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Drama

First Publication: 2003

Language: English

Major Characters: Amir, Hassan, Assef, Bába, Sohrab, Soraya, Rahim Khan

Setting Place: Kabul (Afghanistan), Fremont, California (United States), Peshawar (Pakistan)

Theme: Memory and Past, Politics and Society, Betrayal, Redemption, Violence

Narrator: First-person limited, from Amir’s point of view

Disclaimer!

There are so many ways that this book has touched me; it's difficult to find a place to begin. This story is not for the faint of heart. It's downright brutal at times and the language and subject matter are such that adults should think carefully before allowing their younger teens to read. But for older and more mature teens, there are important lessons to be learned.

What's in This Book ?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini details the life story of a young boy, Amir, who grows up looking for redemption as a result of his betrayal of his half-brother Hassan. Throughout the book, Hosseini delves into the mind of Amir who, in the beginning of the novel, is a young boy living with his father and best friend/half brother in Kabul, Afghanistan. As a loyal friend, Hassan, despite being a Hazara, always defends Amir and himself against the Pashtun boys for being friends despite Amir and Hassan’s difference in social stature. Soon, they split apart after Amir betrays Hassan. Feeling the consequences of his cowardice, Amir sets out to find redemption for his inaction as he goes to save Hassan’s son from the Taliban after Hassan passes.


Throughout the novel, Hosseini recounts the story in first person through the mind of Amir whose guilt-driven consciousness drives the plot. Hosseini weaves the idea that redemption is important because sin is enduring throughout the story. He explains that Amir seeks to help Sohrab, Hassan’s son, as he realizes that he has been “peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.” It becomes apparent that his cowardice and betrayal towards Hassan has plagued his consciousness with guilt. Without relief, he cannot live the normal life that he had tried to build in the United States.

The title of the book also reveals an important aspect of the plot, as the kite fighting tournaments become essential to understanding the underlying meaning of the story. Kite fighting in the beginning of the novel represents the distinct dichotomy that was occurring in Afghanistan between the Pashtuns and the Hazaras, but it also represents the strong bond between the half brothers. In the end, the kite fighting represents the promising future that was ahead of Sohrab and Amir. Hosseini reveals that Amir had “looked down at Sohrab. One corner of his mouth curled up just so. A smile.” Although he has sinned in the beginning, Amir finally finds his redemption and relief within Sohrab.

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Review of The Kite Runner

Writing a review for this book is hard when I know that some people will disagree with me due to the controversial topics discussed in this book. The novel's protagonist Amir describes what he sees through his eyes and what he feels, though Amir's character is very guilt-ridden and he seeks redemption by bringing Sohrab back. He is still not a likable character, displaying many of the least-respectable attributes of an uncertain and self-conscious boy and man. It is this sense of self-loathing and self-doubt that makes the story so powerful, as readers will relate to similar feelings, especially as adolescents.

We have all acted the part of the coward despite knowing our actions could have resulted in helping others. We have all behaved in childish ways to diminish others for our own perceived benefit. And we have all thought back on certain experiences or lost opportunities with a deep regret. That is the main focus of this story, where we follow a journey from childish self-centeredness to regret, and then to acceptance and redemption.

Hassan, perhaps the most striking of Hosseini's characters, embodies the many qualities and attributes Amir admires. A warm, gentle soul without an ounce of guile, Hassan repeatedly demonstrates his loyalty to his Agha (master), Amir. While valuing his companionship, Amir secretly resents Hassan's innocence and the way in which he seemingly glides through life while easily earning praise from Baba. Amir rewards Hassan's unflinching commitment by treating him at times as a brother and at times as a rival. Amir subjects Hassan to a kind of benign cruelty, one moment manipulating him, the next offering him his love.

Khaled Hosseini is one of those few writers who have this uncanny skill of ciphering the deepest of meanings in the simplest of sentences. The story is so beautifully told, the words so carefully used, sentences so precisely aligned, that you cannot help but be swayed to read till the end. This book gives you an insight into life in Afghanistan during the wars and makes your heart ache due to the tremendous amount of tragedies in it.

In short:

  • A very emotional and touching story.
  • If you pick it up ,you won't be able to put it back down.
  • Is historical fiction.
  • Includes mature content.
  • A fast paced and time lapsed book.
  • A wonderful drama, with the Afghan culture as its setting.

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© 2021 Amna Altaf

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