The Kite Runner is one of those books that makes you glad you’ve never had to live in real oppression. It also makes you realise you don’t know just how bad life can get.

Written by

Khaled Hosseini in 2003

Sometimes, you read something that makes you glad that you’ve never had to live through certain tumultuous events. In the midst of these events, there are personal and familial events that shape the course of a life. The Kite Runner has to be one of the saddest stories I’ve ever read, but it also includes one of the most hopeful endings to a book.

This story harks back to Afghanistan in the 1970s, when it was still a monarchy. Amir and Hassan are two boys who have grown up together under the one roof. Amir’s father, affectionately known as Baba, is a wealthy rug merchant in Kabul and they live in an affluent neighbourhood in the city. Sadly, the friendship and camaraderie of the two kids is bought undone through a singular event, an event that Amir is haunted and tormented by for the rest of his life.

The backdrop to even worse events, far more disheartening than any personal guilt is the fate of Afghanistan itself, torn up along racial and religious lines and its descent into total anarchy. Some of the events that happen in this book makes you wonder just how far humans can fall, without the rule of law, sense or restraint. It’s disturbing and sickening that people could be killed for doing something as innocent as existing. But, it goes on and continues to this day.

The Kite Runner is, at its heart, a book about guilt and making things right, as much as humanly possible. Sometimes, that guilt is that you hid the fact you broke your brother’s favourite toy one Christmas and blamed the poor dog on it. Sometimes, it’s that you never came to your friend’s rescue when they needed you most, despite their utmost loyalty and love for you. Both things hurt the people around you, but leave an indelible mark on your person, because you might vow to do better next time.

If you’ve never read The Kite Runner, you should. It’s a fantastic story, which will make you sad yet hopeful for the future. It’s also a book that makes you glad that things you did during your childhood are much more easily forgiven. Perhaps, the story is also about forgiving oneself for the mistakes we all make when we’re young and foolish. After all, bravery, honesty and loyalty are traits that are developed and nurtured, not inherited.

Rating

Masterful. Reading this makes you oscillate between tears of joy and tears of sadness.

Should I read this?

Yes. A thousand times over, yes.

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