The Kite Runner

Keywords: #afghanistan #book-review #fiction #khaled-hosseini

Finished reading this book around a month ago, it was hard to put it down. And it was equally hard to write a review without putting too much details of the story, which would inadvertently creep in. Mostly because it grasped me emotionally, and only after a month or so, this is my third attempt to write a short review.

Story set in 1970s Kabul, narrator Amir comes from a rich family, he lives with his father (Baba) in his house. They have a servant Ali who also lives with his family in a hut in the backyard of their house. Ali’s family comprises of himself and his son Hassan. Amir and Hassan are almost of equal age and hence they make a good company, infact they are like brothers who have grown up together, and all of their childhood memories are of moments which they have spent together.

Amir’s mother died while giving birth to him, which he has made peace with. His father is a man of high social status and has high expectations from Amir, but Amir as a kid craves for his father’s love, which he is unable to see in his father’s guidance for him to excell in sports, win the yearly kite fighting tournament.

Despite growing side by side, there is a big difference between Amir and Hassan which is they come from the two extremes of the society. Amir is a “royal blooded” pashtun, whereas Hassan is a socially downcast Hazara, who are Shia muslims and have suffered tyrannies on the hands of Pashtuns for many years. This difference is known to Amir, only because other people taunt him when he is seen playing with Hassan. The two boys are frequently bullied by Assef and his friends, who think that Hazara have brought a bad name to Afghanistan, and that they have polluted the pure Afghan blood (Nazi mindset). Amir’s father is a man who has not been frenzied with these crazy ideas and has an utmost respect for human relationships which transcend these borders, he is a man of words and a person who everyone looks up to in time of need. He loves Hassan equally as Amir, and this love for a servant’s son is incomprehensible for the young boy, who gets jealous and sad at the same time, and in those moments he feels like he is guilty of killing his mother and that his father thinks the same. Amir is sensitive and wants to feel more connected to his father, but it does not happen. Instead, his father’s friend Rahim Khan lends a hand to him when he needs an elder who would understand him. His biggest fear is his father doubting him and him not being able to prove his worth to his father. When he gets a chance to win his father’s heart, that chance is ruined completely by sick twist of fate. So much so, that it separates Ali from his father, after 40 years of being together.

This is story of a boy who has an unbound faith in  God, a boy who accepts happily whatever fate brings him.

This is the story of a boy who grows up with self doubt and a desire for his father’s tender love and attention. A boy who hates himself for what he has done, for not being able to stand up to bullies.

So later in his life when he gets a chance to make things good, he jumps at it.

The author’s writing style is lucid and it holds your attention easily.

🚨 Spoiler Alert ⚠

The story has a lot of twists and turns, which keep the reader’s feet off the ground. One of them is returning of Hassan’s mother, Sanauber. She had eloped after Hassan was born, because he had a scarred face like his father, Ali. Sanauber blamed Ali for everything bad. But she returns after 23 years as a old lady, with beaten up face. Other twist comes, when Rahim Khan, Baba’s old friend reveals a big secret to Amir long after Baba’s death, which is that Hassan and Amir were half brothers, and that answers Amir’s long held question, why would Baba care about Hassan so much??

Amir - A boy growing up in Kabul in 1970s. Also the narrater of the story.

Baba - Amir’s father. A rich man with a respectable position in society.

Ali - Their servant. He suffers from polio and also has some scars on his face.

Hassan - Ali’s son. They come from Hazara tribes of Afghanistan. He is the only friend of Amir. They live on the same property. Ali and Hassan have a small hut in the backyard. He cannot read or write, so Amir reads him stories from books, and likes to play by changing the story, but Hassan is too naive to understand that he is being tricked.

Rahim Khan - Baba’s dear friend. Amir is fond of him as a child.

Sanaubar - Ali’s wife, who eloped after Hassan was born. Apparently because of their child’s scarred face, because Ali had scars.

Assef - A boy older than Amir and Hassan. The two boys are frequently bullied by Assef and his friends, who think that Hazaras have brought a bad name to Afghanistan, and that they have polluted the pure Afghan blood (Nazi mindset).

Soraya - Amir’s wife. Daughter of General and Jamila.

Sohrab - Hassan’s son, growing up in an orphanage in Afghanistan, after Hassan and his wife are shot by Taliban.

Author - Khaled Hosseini

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