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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.
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.
"An astonishingly powerful book." Diane Sawyer
"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!
Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved
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