The Kite Runner: A Timeless Tale of Friendship, Betrayal, Guilt and Redemption
Updated: Jul 5
This book has been on my TBR list for more than 6 years, and I am glad that I have finally been able to complete this masterpiece by Khaled Hosseini. It is the author's debut novel and has been a bestseller, with more than 10 million copies sold.
Alright, I'm aware that all of you have already read this book, and you're probably curious as to why I'm finally sharing my review a whopping 20 years later. However, there might be some new readers here who haven't yet experienced this book, and I genuinely want to provide them with an idea of the impact it can have.
"The Kite Runner" is the story of a young boy named Amir, the son of a wealthy man, and his complex friendship with Hassan, who is the son of his father's servant. Amir comes from a privileged background, as his father is a well-respected and affluent figure in Kabul. The narrative takes place amidst the backdrop of a country in the midst of destruction.
So the story starts off with Amir, now a grown man settled in America and pursuing a career as a writer. Everything is cruising along smoothly in his life until one unexpected phone call jolts him back to his childhood days in Kabul, Afghanistan. As we journey through the pages, the story then unfolds in a flashback, where Amir and Hassan are best friends, doing everything together.
Amir, as the privileged son of a wealthy family, often enjoys advantages and opportunities that elude Hassan. This disparity creates a power dynamic between them, with Amir sometimes taking on the role of the dominant figure. This dynamic is further complicated by Amir's conflicting emotions of love and jealousy towards Hassan.
While on the other hand Hassan's unwavering loyalty and willingness to sacrifice for Amir's happiness are profound demonstrations of true friendship. He stands up for Amir in the face of adversity, even when it means enduring hardship himself. Hassan's unwavering support and devotion ultimately highlight the depth of their bond.
With the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the political scenario began to change, and so did the friendship of Amir and Hassan.
As the story progresses, the complexities of their relationship become more apparent. Their lives were proceeding as usual until the day when Amir won the kite-fighting tournament, overflowing with joy at his victory. At this moment, Hassan, the most skilled Kite Runner in the city, rushed to retrieve the fallen kite. However, what Amir witnessed next was a horrifying act committed against Hassan, and he chose not to intervene. This single event altered the trajectory of their lives, leading to a sequence of mistakes made by Amir that shattered their friendship, leaving him burdened with a lifetime of guilt and remorse.
"For you a thousand times over."
The line spoken by Hassan before he sets off to retrieve the fallen kite will linger in your mind as the story unfolds.
Now, I want to ensure that this review remains entirely spoiler-free, so I won't disclose any further details about the story. You simply have to read the book yourself to discover its compelling narrative.
'The Kite Runner' is Khaled Hosseini's first novel, yet his alluring writing style defies this fact. While I had always perceived Afghanistan as a country ravaged by war, burdened with weariness, and trapped in a frightening dystopia, Khaled introduced me to a different Afghanistan, revealing its rich history and beauty before the turmoil unfolded. The author's captivating depiction of Kabul's landscapes, adorned with plentiful cherry trees, lively bustling markets, historical gardens embraced by snow-covered hills, and tantalizing street food, painted a vivid picture of how enchanting and abundant Afghanistan once was.
Khaled writes from the heart, crafting characters that are not simply black and white, but rather nuanced and flawed, residing in shades of grey. The protagonist of this story is flawed, not a traditional hero, and at times can make you feel a sense of disdain.
Amir undergoes a remarkable journey of character development. Initially portrayed as a privileged and conflicted young boy, Amir's actions are driven by his own fears and insecurities. However, as the story unfolds, we witness Amir's transformation through guilt, redemption, and ultimately, personal growth.
Overall, 'The Kite Runner' is a must-read book that resonates with readers of all ages. It weaves a captivating tale of friendship, betrayal, guilt, regret, and ultimately, redemption.