Khaled Hosseini – The Kite Runner

                My second book by Khaled Hosseini; I chose it because I promised myself I would read the other two books by the author of „And the Mountains Echoed.” I had heard opinions that those two (“The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”) were better than “And the Mountains Echoed,” and I must agree with this as far as “The Kite Runner” is concerned. This book left me craving for more and I am sorry that there is only one book of Khaled for me to read. Hope they have it in the local library!

                “The Kite Runner” tells about a lot of themes and it’s hard for me to point out which is the most important. The book starts when Amir, the protagonist and narrator, is a 12-year-old boy. He lives with his dad, whom he tries and constantly fails to satisfy, and is friends with Hassan, his Hazara servant. Winning the kite competition seems to be of crucial importance for him, more important than his friendship with Hassan. Out of fear and egoism he betrays his friend, which starts a dramatic change in both of their lives.

                The book follows the fall of Afghanistan monarchy, then the escape of refugees to Pakistan and the USA, and the beginning of Taliban regime. Reading it made me realize how little I know about Afghanistan. Makes me also selfishly grateful I was born in Poland. We are far from being a perfect country, but at least I am not a woman who cannot be alone with a man, and my dad does not have to agree to whomever I want to marry. And I can be single and successful; and losing virginity before getting married does not mean losing chances of having a husband. Things I take for granted, but which work so differently for many women out there.

                In this book Khaled deals with what I’m most interested about the war – the aftermath. The effects on regular people, those who have not started the war and just want to live their own lives, but it is them who suffer the most. The description of Kabul after the war almost tore me apart. It’s not like I had never known before what the war can do, it’s rather that I never fail to find it unfair and heartbreaking. I also loved how the author described the little, every-day Afghanistan customs, like the Afghan honor. I may not agree with it, but it was very interesting for me to read about it.  

                I heard the opinion about this book that it was boring. I think I know where this is coming from. This book is not your science-fiction or action novel. It’s a psychological drama, and as such I wasn’t expecting a lot of events to happen. On the contrary, I got what I expected. Lots of details, carefully crafted characters, and deep emotions. It was so beautifully written, and I think that action would ruin the mood of the book. It’s not a book where a lot of has to happen, on the contrary, in this book we learn about the characters through small things they do or through what happens to them.

                One more thing I noticed about Hosseini’s books, not only this, but the previous one, too (“And the Mountains Echoed”) – he talks about getting old and sick and dying. I’m not saying his the only author that deals with those subject, but I’m sort of accustomed to reading about characters that are either children or teenagers or relatively young. Khaled, however, describes the process of aging and the weakness of the body in a way that makes me feel both nostalgic and afraid.

                This novel deals with themes like fear, loss, fear of loss; then redemption, overwhelming guilt, and huge courage. It is about human nature and its mistakes, about forgiveness, and second chances. It’s about friendship, and hard relations between parents and children. I was glad that it avoided a happy-end at the same time giving the readers hope for a better tomorrow. Hope that things can get back to normal and it’s never too late for redemption, as long as you live. And for that I can highly recommend it.

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