by Khaled Hosseini
The story of Amir, a boy from Kabul and his childhood friend, Hassan. Amir's family is very well off, and Hassan is the son of his father's servant. The two boys are very close friends despite the gap in their social status, until a horrific incident occurs in which Amir betrays his friend's trust. For the rest of his life Amir wrestles with his secret guilt, especially after moving to America with his father. Finally, as an adult, he returns to Afghanistan in an attempt to redeem himself and assuage his guilt. The last quarter of the book is particularly suspenseful, as Amir conducts a desperate search through an Afghanistan unrecognizable from his idyllic childhood homeland, altered forever by war and the rule of the Taliban.
I was not enthralled with The Kite Runner, in spite of the fact that I enjoyed many aspects of it. It is a vivid picture of life in Afghanistan, and a strong portrait of the people's pride and sense of honor. I especially loved the descriptions of a boy's sport called kite running, in which the children coat the strings of their kites with crushed glass, then battle them in the sky. However, there were many parts of the story that felt so contrived, melodramatic or violent I had difficulty believing it. I'm sure that in a war-torn country such terrible things really do occur, but I had the feeling I was reading a narrative that had been over-dramatized for effect, and lost some of its realism. Nevertheless, it is a very powerful story about friendship and honor, war, guilt, and redemption.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 371 pages, 2003
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