Riverhead Books, 2003
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
THE KITE RUNNER, set in the 1970's, chronicles the story of two motherless
boys in Kabul, Afghanistan -- Amir and Hassan. Hassan's father, Ali, is
the servant and foster brother of Amir's father, a wealthy businessman.
The boys share a love for American cowboy movies and kites. However, their
friendship is complicated by their ethnic differences -- Amir is Pashtun,
who are Sunni Muslims, and Hassan is Hazara, who are Shi'a. Amir is
educated and spoiled. Hassan is illiterate and gentle natured. Despite
their differences they grow up as close as brothers, until Amir abandons
his devoted friend when he could have saved him from a brutal bully. The
guilt over standing by silently while Hassan is attacked builds a barrier
that eventually becomes insurmountable.
The Soviet invasion forces Amir and his father to flee Afghanistan. They
escape to build a new life in America, but Amir's guilt over his treatment
of Hassan is a haunting influence that overshadows his life. Twenty years
later, when it seems the past is long forgotten, Amir gets a call to come
home to Afghanistan -- it is time to deal with his past. Now Amir must
face his worst moment and discover if he has the power to undo the damage
of the terrible choice he made.
THE KITE RUNNER is an amazing tale of friendship, fear, courage and
redemption. Written from Amir's viewpoint, it will give readers a
revealing glimpse of Afghanistan though his eyes. Amir and Hassan are
vivid, captivating characters, and like many great characters, their story
will stay with you long after the last page is turned.
Author Kahled Hosseini's storytelling skills are beautiful as he has
captured the essence of human fragility and strength in this unforgettable
tale. I'm surprised I overlooked this book for so long. It deserves to be
Pulitzer Prize winning author William Stryon said, "A great book should
leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted. You should live
several lives while reading it." That's exactly how reading THE KITE
RUNNER affected me. THE KITE RUNNER is Hosseini's debut novel.
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