Molly's Reviews > The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
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's review
Jun 17, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 4-and-a-half-stars, recommended, literary-fiction, realistic-fiction, read-in-2016, read-harder-2016
Read from May 04 to 07, 2016

First, a story (don't deny me, Goodreads! People post "reviews" that consist solely of gifs from Parks and Rec). Not quite 10 years ago (January 07, to be precise), my friend Maureen lent me this book. I started to read it, got as far as page 40 (which was still dogeared), and, for reasons I no longer remember, stopped. The book sat on my nightstand, unopened, sometimes under other books, until I moved out of my parents' house and into my condo. Then it sat on that same nightstand for at least another year or two before I finally admitted defeat and put it on the bookshelf. I kept thinking if it sat on my nightstand, in plain view every day, I'd eventually have to pick it up and finish reading it. And in the last 9 years, pretty much everyone from friends to colleagues to students has told me I need to read it. This book is like my secret shame. Which is dumb, because it's not like I pretend I've read it or something. But having read and loved both of Hosseini's other books, I felt absurdly guilty for having never read his first one. Which, again, dumb. I'm pretty sure he's not disappointed in me. I just feel like...this is a book I should read! And then I find excuses not to do it.

I think the biggest excuse I've always made is that I KNOW it's going to be sad. "Devastating" is a word that's thrown around a lot lately with all of these huge *important* tomes, and I just keep thinking, "why would I WANT to read something devastating?" I'm not saying it has to be all sunshine and rainbows (frankly that also sounds awful), but something about going in, knowing full well that I'm going to be emotionally can be off putting. And also the longer I avoided this book the more worried I got that I was going to hate it, or just find it disappointing.

All of this is to say that I firmly believe there is a right time to read some books. January 2007 was, for whatever reason, not the right time. But this past Wednesday, when I had the day off for an appointment and needed something to read, I suppose it was finally the right time. And I am pleased to say that I liked it! And while it's definitely an emotional ride (I feel like "sad" is an horribly inadequate descriptor), like all of Hosseini's books, it ends on a note of hope. Like...nothing is perfect and the world is broken in so many ways, but there are still small miracles.

Ultimately, it's a story about redemption. Amir grew up wealthy, but as a child his closest friend was Hassan, the son of his father's servant Ali. There are ethnic as well as class barriers between them, which I could not even begin to fully unravel. I feel like I need a button that says "everything I know about Afghanistan, I learned from Khaled Hosseini," because it's completely true. But suffice it to say, Hassan is unflinchingly loyal and Amir is a bit of an ass. But when Amir is twelve and having the greatest day of his life -- he's just won the kite fighting tournament and probably his father's approval -- he witnesses Hassan being brutally attacked, and walks away rather than standing up for him, as Hassan had done so many times for Amir. Their friendship is pretty much irreparably damaged, and Amir just wishes Hassan would confront him, get mad, something.

Amir carries the guilt his entire life, even after he and his father start over in America and he begins a new life. So when his father's old friend Rahim offers, "the chance to be good again," Amir realizes this is his best opportunity to atone for what happened in the alley all those years ago. The journey takes him back to his homeland, and it's almost reminiscent of Ifemelu's dilemma in Americanah -- the Kabul he remembers no longer exists. He's treated almost like a foreigner in his own country (though much of that is thanks to the Taliban).

Thankfully, there absolutely is hope in this story. That's not to say that parts of it weren't hard to read (I had to put it down and take a walk after the meeting with Assef), but Hosseini tells a damn good story. I'm actually amazed that I was able to just stop reading the first time and never feel the need to pick the book up again. But again, sometimes it just isn't the right time for a book. I'm glad this one finally came around again.

Read harder challenge #10: Read a book set in the Middle East

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Reading Progress

05/04/2016 marked as: to-read
05/04/2016 marked as: currently-reading
05/07/2016 marked as: read
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