“There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.”
― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
Title: The Kite Runner
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Amir flashes back to his well-off childhood, twenty-six years ago when he lived in 1970s Afghanistan with his father, Baba. They have two Hazara servants, Ali and his son Hassan. Despite the big difference in class the two boys are close and Amir’s father treats both Hassan and Ali as family.
Winter is an exciting time for the kite-fighting tournament but it’s on that day that Amir witnesses Hassan pinned with his pants down, being raped by Asseff, but doesn’t do anything to help. Unable to deal with his guilt and failure to defend the ever loyal Hassan, Amir instead gets rid of Hassan and Ali by framing the boy for theft.
Their lives are toppled over by politics in the country and they flee to California. The once affluent Baba now works at a gas station, which eventually affects his health. Amir’s life in the US includes graduation, marriage, losing his father and having to go back to see his father’s old best friend. It’s there that he discovers his actual relation with Hassan, and how Hassan and his wife were killed by the Taliban, leaving behind a son. Amir goes through a dangerous course to finding the boy. Eventually, he finds him kept as an object of amusement and sexual abuse by a man whose face he can never forget from that day when he saw it pinning down Hassen in that alley.
This handsomely written story is such a deep and emotional experience that reaches into our relationships with others and how those relationships affect who we are and who we become. Amir is a well-off child but despite all that affluence he is constantly starving for his father’s affection and wants to make him proud. From all that has happened in his childhood, the harsh changes in his life, loss and disappointments, to the shocking discoveries, the story is as intense and emotional for the reader as it is for the protagonist.
The Kite Runner just demonstrates a sad search for redemption that we can identify with. It also details the raw turmoil that befalls people when politics seep into their personal lives. Khaled Hosseini writes in a way that makes the story jump out of the pages and shake your core, rattle your emotions and leave in your tears. His characters are so real, you love and hate some, and you forgive some while others you’d like to strangle. It’s an unforgettable story, original and brilliantly crafted.