Can a reader really select one book as his/her favorite when asked? It’s not possible. But there might be one book that comes to mind spontaneously as the answer to that question. For me, that answer would be this book, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I read this book from my neighborhood library long back. The story has been unforgettable, and the book now is a prized part of my small bookshelf.
Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.
The Kite Runner is about love. Though there is a romantic love in the story, it isn’t the focus one. The story shows love in a few forms. One is the love of a father for his son. The other one is a strong friendship that transcends status in society. Amir and Hassan have grown up together. The former is a member of the ruling Pashtun caste, and the latter is his servant, a member of the Hazara caste. Their uncommon friendship suffers because of a choice made by Amir, but it is because of the strength of that bond that Amir journeys back to Afghanistan to right that wrong.
If you ask me to associate one word with the novel, I might say “traumatic” but even then, the story is memorable. The emotions went between happiness for that uncommon bond, sadness at the choice Amir makes and the repercussions of that, and then a sense of awe as Amir journeys back. Hosseini’s language is evocative, makes it both easier and harder to imagine a world that is being torn apart by war. Each character is beautiful, and human. Not perfect. It’s engaging from start to finish but feels tedious at some parts. I have many favorite quotes from this book but it is a phrase that stands out in the end.
“For you, a thousand times over.”
A thousand times over I might read this book, if I had the time to, and I think each of those times would be worth it. To think this was Khaled Hosseini’s debut novel is astonishing. The writing is compelling and leaves me awestruck. I loved the character of Hassan the most, and the character of Assef the least. But yes, there are times I hate Amir too. For that choice he made, which led to more unforgivable choices. But though it is unwritten, I would like to think he tried to make up for those with that final scene. And yes, that does tug at the heartstrings. This is a must-read novel I feel.
Title: The Kite Runner
Author: Khaled Hosseini
No. of Pages: 344
Rating: 10 out of 10