The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
It is the second half of the twentieth century and Afghanistan is on the brink of a turning point in its history. The Kite Runner follows the friendship between Amir, the son of a wealthy man, and Hassan, the son of Amir’s father’s servant. Their friendship is doomed from the start, and the event that tears them apart will shape both of their lives and haunt Amir for many years to come. This is a story of friendship, betrayal, and sacrifice, and the enormous responsibility that comes with each of our choices.
The author establishes a certain kind of chemistry between the two boys early on. Amir and Hassan are friends, but not in the traditional sense. It is difficult for Amir to be a true friend to Hassan because of the huge difference between their classes. Amir thinks of Hassan as his friend, yet when he reflects on this, he finds that in many respects, he treats Hassan differently than he would were he not a servant. Amir also desperately seeks the praise of his father, who sees him as far from perfect and seems to have a greater affection for Hassan than for Amir. It is this desire for his father’s approval that eventually forces the two boys apart. I thought Hosseini was able to perfectly illustrate Amir’s dilemmas in a way that leaves the reader constantly apprehensive of what is to come next.
Hosseini also creates a clear contrast between two characters through Amir and Hassan. Hassan is morally pure. He never lies and remains loyal to Amir, whom he sees as his friend. He never becomes angry and is always humble. Amir’s character is tainted by his jealousy of Hassan, for whom his father has shown fondness. Amir longs for his father to love him and be proud of him, and as he grows older, many of his decisions are based on these slowly intensifying feelings.
In this book, Hosseini explores the complexities of friendship, the price of betrayal, and the crushing weight of guilt. Each of these themes is skillfully and beautifully played out in a way the reader cannot ignore and left me thinking about this book for days. In my opinion, a great book should elicit specific emotions and leave the reader pondering over the themes presented. The Kite Runner accomplishes both of these things and is overall a very well-written book.
The themes in this book are complex and mature, and some rough language is used, including profanities. There is one incident of rape in chapter seven and multiple references to it throughout the book. In addition, there is one reference to intimacy in chapter thirteen, but no details are included. I highly recommend this book for older readers. There is much to be learned from it, of both literary and moral value, and I don’t think anyone will regret reading it.