The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini was originally published in 2003. My paperback edition has 371 pages. Why did I wait so long to read The Kite Runner? I picked up the paperback edition before we moved from Reno planning to read it sometime during our half-way-across the country move (what was I thinking?) Then it just kept getting shuffled to the bottom of the stack, set aside, over looked. I must say I enjoyed The Kite Runner very much and highly recommend it, in spite of it's flaws. The joy? It's a smooth, easy read, many of the (early) descriptions are well written and he creates real empathy for Amir. The flaws? Simplistic plot and writing, and, with the jumps in time, it frays a bit in the middle. But I did stay up way too late last night finishing The Kite Runner, which counts for something. Rating: 4.5
In his debut novel, The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini accomplishes what very few contemporary novelists are able to do. He manages to provide an educational and eye-opening account of a country's political turmoil--in this case, Afghanistan--while also developing characters whose heartbreaking struggles and emotional triumphs resonate with readers long after the last page has been turned over. And he does this on his first try.
The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule. ("...I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.")
Some of the plot's turns and twists may be somewhat implausible, but Hosseini has created characters that seem so real that one almost forgets that The Kite Runner is a novel and not a memoir. At a time when Afghanistan has been thrust into the forefront of America's collective consciousness ("people sipping lattes at Starbucks were talking about the battle for Kunduz"), Hosseini offers an honest, sometimes tragic, sometimes funny, but always heartfelt view of a fascinating land. Perhaps the only true flaw in this extraordinary novel is that it ends all too soon. --Gisele Toueg
"I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975." opening sentence
"We took our first steps on the same lawn in the same yard. And, under the same roof, we spoke our first words.
Mine was Baba.
His was Amir. My name.
Looking back on it now, I think the foundation for what happened in the winter of 1975 - and all that followed - was already laid in those first words." pg. 11
"My father was a force of nature, a towering Pashtun specimen with a thick beard, a wayward crop of curly brown hair as unruly as the man himself, hands that looked capable of uprooting a willow tree, and a black glare that would 'drop the devil to his knees begging for mercy'..." pg. 12
"With me as the glaring exception, my father molded the world around him to his liking." pg. 15
"Because history isn't easy to overcome. Neither is religion. In the end, I was a Pashtun and he was a Hazara, I was Sunni and he was Shi'a, and nothing was ever going to change that. Nothing." pg. 25
"The shootings and explosions had lasted less than an hour, but they had frightened us badly, because none of us had ever heard gunshots in the streets. They were foreign sounds to us then. The generation of Afghan children whose nears would know nothing but the sounds of bombs and gunfire was not yet born." pg. 36
"Afghans cherish custom but abhor rules. And so it was with kite fighting. The rules were simple: No rules. Fly your kite. Cut the opponents. Good luck." pg. 52
"Baba loved the idea of America.
It was living in America that gave him an ulcer." pg. 125