Wade's Reviews > The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
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Aug 29, 07

Read in August, 2007

i had a little bit of a hard time getting into this book at first. i'm picky about characterization and overly sensitive to indulgent description. at first, i found the characters too one-dimensional. Baba never seemed to confront a situation that was morally complicated -- he never actually -wrestled- with bears. similarly, none of the other characters had must wrestling -- only broadly-painted blocks of emotional themes.
like most people [i think] i was sympathetic to Amir's thoughts and reactions, but eventually i found him annoying -- pushed too far into caricature by the theme of his childhood. it was hard for me to put up with his dramatic descriptions of Soraya.
but in the end (where i've read a number of reviews that claim it resorts to fable) i liked it again. it still paints too easy a picture of the good guys and bad ones, but it complicates things. i liked the fable-like quality, as if Hosseini was hitting his groove in storytelling, where the hero gets to wrestle honestly--not just fail or succeed as a matter of trope.
i kept wondering how Hosseini felt about Amir. there seemed to be false notes in the early descriptions of his childhood, as if he was trying too hard to set up the lessons Amir would learn later.
i also found Assef to be a fascinating character -- clearly stating Hosseini's perspective on the nature of the Taliban. still quite broadly painted, but i think i have to believe on some level that people who are committing atrocities like this are using religion and politics to play out their cruel impulses.
i think part of the book's success was explaining Amir's reactions in a way that i suspect most people (most US readers) would understand. i think Amir and Hassan's relationship provides an good description about some of the dynamics of power and privilege. Amir sees Hassan as exotically good, "salt of the earth," and therefore better than him. he reacts with minor cruelty yet expects devotion. he feels guilt but can let it pass. he can (as Farid accuses later) always leave and go back to his walled mansion (literally or figuratively).
Hosseini seems to be at his best when (like Jhumpa Lahiri?) he's dealing with the complex yankings of modernism and tradition in national/cultural communities in the US. i'm looking forward to reading A Thousand Splendid Suns because there are (hopefully) real -women- in that one. i found it a little difficult to read all the absences of real women. the theme of the dead mother written in Amir's perspective, i guess, and a symptom of a few of the broad thematic sweeps that don't get complicated.

wow, that's a long review. if you read it, sorry for wasting so much of your time.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Fromm I read this book quite some time ago but this review seems 'on the money' to me, recounting in an honest way the strengths and weaknesses of the book. Quite unlike the 'holier than thou' screeds also entered as reviews.


Destinee Gant For me the beginning was quite the opposite I didn't want to put the book down. I kept longing for the climax therefore I kept reading however there was a dramatic fall in the parts after the climax. I wasn't all that happy about that but was surprised by the ending. Unlike "A Thousand Splendid Suns" the book didn't have a happily ever after ending which made it more realistic.


message 3: by Cameron (new) - added it

Cameron Nunez Totally agree. Reading this book, I kind of had a hard time finding the light of the situations Amir had to go through. I was completely alarmed and shocked at the fact he witnesses Hassan's rape and also refuses to call for help. Like you said, I felt sympathetic towards his thoughts and ideas but eventually became aggravated by his inability to set things straight with Hassan and just making really silly decisions. Some people most likely can relate to this because all of us have made decisions we weren't necessarily proud of and that decision not only effects you but others as well. Practically, Amir ruins and saves Hassan's life. Without Amir's friendship, I doubt Hassan would have made it that far but if Amir would have just been less selfish and found a way to contact Hassan later, maybe Hassan could of survived longer than he does. I too found Assef to be a key symbol of a group such as the Taliban because of his horrible acts that he does to young boys that he claims is right since they are Hazara; this perfectly shows the flaws found in the ideas people create to fit their own needs.


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