The Kite Runner: by Khaled Hosseini

I know this isn't the first review of "The Kite Runner" on Hubpages, or anywhere else for that matter. My only regret is that I didn't read this fabulous book sooner! My daughter passed it on to me a couple of months ago and I finally read it over the weekend. This is a great book with so much to offer...it has more twists and turns than an Old Irish country road! There are times when you think its getting slow and you wonder should I continue...then you are more than glad you did.

"One day last summer, my friend Rahim Khan called from Pakistan. He asked me to come see him. Standing in the kitchen with the receiver to my ear, I knew it wasn't just Rahim Kan on the line. It was my past of unatoned sins."

Though the story begins and ends with an adult Amir...it is really about Amir's childhood and his friendship with Hassan. Not knowing anything about Pakistan, Afghanistan or their history is quickly rectified as you follow the adventures of these two young boys.

Amir is the son of a wealthy merchant, who is a Pushtun/Pashtun, and Hassan is the Hazara servant boy. So, right off the bat, what is or who is Pushtun/Pashtun and Hazara? Pushtun are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and they are also the dominant group. Hazara are Persian speaking people that are mostly Shiite Muslims. They live in Kabul (capital and largest city in Afghanistan). At this time Hazara are considered 'unworthy' and are servants in this culture.

Not just to be kite runner but to be the winning kite runner!
Not just to be kite runner but to be the winning kite runner! | Source

So back to the story. Hassan is a servant boy and Amir the son of the wealthy merchant with all the luxuries of the wealthy. The boys have a great friendship and spend their time together. Amir's father, Baba, is also a main character. Amir loves his father but never feels the acceptance he craves. Yet, it seems Baba, at times, has more affection for Hassan.

No story is complete without a villain and the villain in Amir and Hassan's life is another boy named Assef. He is a sociopath who believes Hitler was a hero and Hazara are unworthy to live.

You might be wondering about "kite running"...I know I was. It seems annually there was a kite flying contest but not just any contest, the entire town was involved and winning was an honor and made you very special. Obviously Amir thought if he won the contest Baba would finally accept him.

The lines used to fly the kites were embedded with broken glass and the object was to be the last kite flying. You would use your line to cut the lines of other kites. The supreme win came if after flying the last kite in the air, you could run down the last kite cut. Here is where our heroes (Amir and Hassan) have their major run in with Assef. After an earlier confrontation when Hassan bested Assef, Assef is now seeking revenge. Hassan has run down the last kite for the glory of Amir but is then trapped in a dead end alley by Assef. Assef sexually assaults Hassan while Amir stands at the other end of the alley paralyzed with fear, watching the assault. Obviously this incident changes Amir and Hassan and their relationship with each other.

Quote to think about

"You know....I like where I live." said by Hassan to Amir.
"Did something happen to him, Amir agha? Something he's not telling me?" Ali (Hassan's father) to Amir.
"Life here is impossible for us now, Agha sahib. We're leaving." Ali to Baba
"Sad stories make sad books" Soraya to Amir
"I can't believe you can write like this" Soraya to Amir
"---shot her too. Self-defense, they claimed later---" Rahim to Amir
"You've always thought too highly of me, Rahim Khan." Amir to Rahim

Hassan is shamed and withdraws. Amir finally gets the relationship he's always wanted with Baba, though it doesn't last long. Throughout Amir is trying to deal with the guilt of not helping Hassan and his tormented mind wants to get Hassan out of his life.

Rahim Kahn, Baba's friend, seems to always know what is happening and always understands Amir. Amir's birthday is celebrated with a huge party and tons of gifts, but Amir cannot enjoy any of it because of his tortured conscience. Rahim gives Amir a journal to write all his stories in. Though Baba thinks Amir's writing is useless, as always Rahim appreciates his stories and encourages him to write. Of all his birthday gifts the only one he keeps and treasures, is the journal from Rahim.

Through many twists, Hassan and his father finally leave Baba's house. Hassan is no longer a threat to Amir though his conscience still knows what he 'didn't do'. Five years later Russia invades Afghanistan. Amir and Baba escape to Peshawar, Pakistan and then to California. Baba gets a job in a gas station and Amir goes to college. Following a normal American life, Amir meets the girl of his dreams, Soraya. Baba becomes ill but tries to hide the seriousness of his illness from Amir. Their relationship in America is so different than the one they had back home. Following a traditional Afghani courtship, Amir and Soraya are engaged and become married. They do speed things up a bit out of respect for Baba and the desire to have Baba at their wedding. They have a happy marriage, even after Baba's death. But after a few years of marriage, they discover they cannot have children.

Fifteen years later Amir receives a phone call from Rahim who tells Amir he needs to come and "There is a way to be good again." Amir decides to go. What he finds is a country run by Taliban, danger at every corner, starvation in the faces of people on the streets, houses blown to bits, others standing but with no roof. Rahim tells him about Hassan's life and that he was living in Baba's house to keep it for him when Baba would return. The Taliban ordered Hassan to give up the house and he refused. He was executed on the front lawn as was his wife. His son, Sohrab is the sole survivor. Rahim has brought Amir home to rescue Sohrab and bring him to an orphanage run by Thomas and Betty Caldwell.


Reviews

"An astonishingly powerful book." Diane Sawyer

"Riveting...Unforgettable." Newsday

"Moving and Unexpected. The Denver Post

"Evocative...and Genuine" Chicago Tribune

Amir's journey back to his old house is filled with heartbreak at what he sees. A cab driver, Farid, helps Amir in his journey and takes him back to Baba's house. No one is there however. Farid finds out that Sohrab is in a nearby orphanage and Amir and Farid go to rescue him. When they arrive at the oraphange, a very skeptical and somewhat shady seeming character tells them Sohrab has been taken by a man. He tells Amir to go to a soccer match where he can find this man. At the soccer game Amir witnesses 'this man' stoning a man and woman to death for their 'adultery'...it is a half time incident. Amir gets word to the man that he wants to meet him and is told where the man's house is.

When Amir goes to the house and after being escorted in by armed men, the man seems familiar. Finally, Amir realizes it is Assef. Assef tells his thugs to leave the room and not to come back in...he tells them, one of us will not leave this room alive and you are not to interfere. He tells them to leave Sohrab to watch.

Here is where I end my tale so that I do not ruin the book for you. I have left out many details to make you want to read the book to find out. I have not told you about the relationship between Soraya and her father, or what Rahim and Amir talked about when Amir came at his bidding...all things that are not only part of the story but some of which are shocking. I did not tell you about the discussion between Baba and Amir when Amir said he wanted to be a writer; I didn't tell you about the ever changing politics of Afghanistan, or the money under the mattress, or Assef's eye. So much you really need to read to find out!

"Did I ever tell you your father was the best kite runner in Wazir Akbar Khan? Maybe all of Kabul" Amir told Sohrab in America.

Did I cry? Oh yes, many times. Many touching, some shocking, some beautiful scenes...all that kept my attention and kept me reading to the very last page.

The New York Times Book Review;

This powerful first novel...tells a story of fierce cruelty and fierce yet redeeming love. Both transform the life of Amir, Khaled Hosseini's privileged young narrator, who comes of age during the last peaceful days of the monarchy, just before his country's revolution and its invasion by Russian forces. But political events, even as dramatic as the ones that are presented in The Kite Runner, are only a part of this story. In The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini gives us a vivid and engaging story that reminds us how long his people have been struggling to triumph over the forces of violence--forces that continue to threaten them even today.

It is purely coincidental that I have just written a hub about Malala, the 14 year old girl shot by the Taliban for promoting women's education in Pakistan. This book has enlightened me about how things are in that part of the country and what these people face every day of their lives. The horrors and fear the Taliban subject their own people to.

As an educational piece and a novel this is a great read which I highly recommend. On a scale of one to five I would vote this a five and a half!

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Comments 30 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

It sounds like a fascinating read, Mary! Thanks for the recommendation. I'll put it on my "future reads" list.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

Wow, Mary, this is an excellent book review. A must read for sure!

Voted Way up

God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Yes....excellent book.....read it and loved it. It's powerful. One of those books I want to read again.....I know exactly what you mean about how it gets a bit dull/slow and you feel you may lose interest ..but then that passes. Thanks for sharing with the readers here...it is a great book to recommend , Tillie!.......You do book reviews superbly!....UP+++


Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

Mary, beautiful review and even though I have never read this book myself after reading what you had to say hereI am left intrigued an may just need to try to read if I ever get a free moment!! Thank you and have voted up and shared all over too!!


CrisSp profile image

CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

I've read this book and once I started it, I couldn't put it down anymore. Just wanted to finish it all through out to find out what happened in the end specially to Hassan. What a gripping story, very touching! I still can't forget what happened to Hassan from the hands of another sociopath kid.

I've also seen the movie (I prefer the book) and my favorite line is: "For you, a thousand times over."

Great review. Voted up and interesting!


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

A great review and a wonderful book. Enjoyed reading. Voted up.


carter06 profile image

carter06 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

Oh gosh I really want to read this now, it sounds like such a wonderful book...thanks for doing such a great review it hooked me straight away...

Up, I & awesome..shared


remaniki profile image

remaniki 4 years ago from Chennai, India

Hi Mary,

I am on vacation and enjoying every moment with my 3-month old granddaughter, yet, when I saw this book review, I couldn't overlook it for the simple reason that The Kite Runner is a book that I will remember for a long time to come.

Thanks to my daughter-in-law's prodding I read this book recently and was so impressed by this book that I started recommending it to all my friends. What a book! I cried several times just as you mentioned Mary- so full of emotions that readers will have to cry- a great book indeed!

Your review is very good, to the point, crisp and clear. Now I have started reading another book by the same author (his second book) "Thousand Splendid suns" which is another great read. I am only half-way through but am not able to put the book down. Please do read it Mary. You'll love it, I'm sure.

Thanks for recommending 'The Kite Runner' (maiden venture of the author) through your wonderful book review. So much to learn about the troubled times in Afghanistan under Russia first and the Taliban later along with a wonderful emotion-packed story of two youngsters.

Cheers, Rema.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Definitely a fascinating read Billy.

Thanks Faith, it is an excellent book.

Effer, glad you enjoyed it too. Happy you like my reviews.

Janine, I'm sure its difficult for you to find time to do much of anything right now...I know how busy kids can keep you!

CrisSp, I think everyone who reads that book will remember that line for a very long time! Movies can't do justice to a book that has so much introspection.

Vellur, it truly was good wasn't it?

Carter, this is a book I can recommend to everyone and anyone. It is moving, exciting and yes, powerful.

Remaniki, how wonderful you are getting to enjoy your granddaughter! I think I will have to go out and buy Splendid Suns...if it is half as good as Kite Runner...


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

I read this book when it first came out and it is excellent. I thought you wrote a very good review for the book and it will probably entice more people to read this book. Voted up and useful.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Pamela, I always try to make it interesting without giving away too much.


weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia

This is a great book, I listened to the audio book on a long trip to NY, great review!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Weestro, always good to have you stop by!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Mary, great review. I read this book a long time ago and still rave on about it to people now. I read this one and also A Thousand Splendid Suns which is also an amazing book about Afghanistan and another one you tell all of your friends about. Voted up and shared.


Mike Robbers profile image

Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

I've seen the movie and I loved it.. It's great to see Afghanistan getting the attention it deserves through books, movies and wonderful hubs like yours..

thanks for sharing tillsontitan


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Jools. I guess I'm going to have to get A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Yes, Mike, I agree. It helps us to understand more when we read books like these even if they are fiction. I understand the movie was banned in Afghanistan because it made the Taliban look bad.


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana

Thanks for providing this review. I've seen this book on display at the stores but hadn't given much thought to reading it. Sounds like a "must read" to add to my list!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Definitely Kris. I kept moving it around my house but am so glad I finally sat down and read it!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

I am so glad that you liked it and thank you for sharing this with us--this book has been sitting on my bedside table for a while now--maybe I need to move it up in the ranks!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

That's what happened to me Audrey. I had it sitting there and finally decided to read it. Definitely move it up in the ranks ;)


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

I meant to comment on this one last night Mary, but was writing a poem that required my full inspiration at that Quintassential second of inspiration. I read a quick review 3 years ago, and never read it as I should. I bumped into it again 2 years ago with the premier of " The Hurt Locker," but still didn't check into the book. Now that you left me without the full happy ending, I will try to read it! Funny enough, I used to fly my own kites that were "copied" to built the Space shuttle. Great writing as usual!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thank you for coming back and commenting, that was so nice of you. I'm sure your poem is excellent and I will check it out when I'm done here. I never give away the ending, thus trying to get you to read the book. Sounds like your kites were unique!


JessJoll profile image

JessJoll 3 years ago from Isle Of Wight

This is incredible, really helped me on my exam, wow


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

So glad it was a help to you Jess.


Nathan Orf profile image

Nathan Orf 2 years ago from Virginia

Good review of The Kite Runner. I remember I read this book in college while working on a review of my own, and I could not put it down. Great writing, and Khaled Hosseini really does know how to spin a yarn.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York Author

It certainly was well written and interesting. How did your college review go? Thanks for stopping by.


Nathan Orf profile image

Nathan Orf 2 years ago from Virginia

It went well, I got a very good grade on the essay I wrote about the book.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York Author

Congrats. Maybe you should write it on HP!


molometer profile image

molometer 13 months ago

The book is usually always better than the movie but I must say the movie was pretty good.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 13 months ago from New York Author

Guess I'll have to see the movie Michael. Thanks for the tip.

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