Saturday, 23 June 2018

Book Review: The Kite Runner

An emotional story of friendship, loss and betrayal, this book is an absolute roller-coaster of a read. Beginning in Afghanistan with the story of two young boys, servant and master, yet as close as close can be to point that they are almost brothers; Amir and Hassan are two young innocents, best friends but unfortunately from different social backgrounds. Amir's father often spoils Hassan, to Amir's annoyance, however age and wisdom often come hand in hand, as the boys eventually learn. Amir is a Pastun, Hassan a Hazara, often picked on for being so, alongside being illiterate. Determined to win their local kite flying contest, the two boys work together before one betrays the other and changes the course of their lives forever. The outcome of this betrayal will haunt one of the boys forevermore. Some have assumed that this is a biography of Hosseini's life, although it is definitely a work of fiction. However, Hosseini has taken inspiration from his own Afghan upbringing, so this story may unfortunately have been a reality for someone, somewhere, which is difficult to comprehend.

As war begins to tear Afghanistan apart, Amir and his father are forced to flee to America, a dangerous and terrifying journey, one that takes innumerable amounts of courage. As Amir ages, so does the narrative and we see him as an adult, working hard to survive in a new world and forever wanting to make his father proud. The move to America is an opportunity to start afresh, to reflect and improve on past mistakes. The novel has many themes running through its pages, such as immigration, sexism, racism, abuse and relationships, each of which are explored in depth. It is a painful story, one which is fast paced (as a reader you witness the boys grow from children to men in less than a hundred pages) but also one that portrays harrowing consequences for lack of loyalty to family and friends. Hosseini is an excellent storyteller, using the past, present and future to tell a story of a life which although is not necessarily one that you have experienced, is one that you can imagine. Every moment of this book feels true, even the most upsetting points of the story, which always an excellent element to any work of fiction. 

Ultimately, this is a novel about humanity, not about war or conflict; as Afghanistan in the modern day has become well known for its conflict, sadly, this what many will wrongly assume about this book. The movement of the ruling class and eventually the Taliban does play a massive part in some of this book, but the overall message is not based upon their atrocities, it based on what makes a man. As much as it as a difficult read, there was so much to love about this book; the understanding of love and trust, how Afghan people are proud and strong and how those who are loyal remain loyal for ever. The relationships within this novel are far deeper than at first glance, which only emphasises the bond of family. This is the kind of book that demands to be read, regardless of how much heartbreak is within its pages. This was a 5 star read not because it was easy, but due to the beautifully written story which grabbed my heart.

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