Thursday, November 3, 2016

Khaled Housseini - The Kite Runner

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir's choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

Comment: I've had this book to read for months and months but this time I decided to add it to my reading list. Several friends have read it and enjoyed it and I was obviously curious about it. I'm very glad it was as amazing as many people have claimed it was.

In this book we follow the life of Amir, an Afghan boy who has a good life in Afghanistan along with his father and their servants and friends Ali and Hassan. Amir is wealthy an he knows it but his tendency is to words and peace. However, his friendship with Hassan, a boy that lives close by because he is the son of their life long servant Ali, will change one day when Amir doesn't help Hassan when he needs it the most. Throughout the book we follow Amir and his life, the things he sees and lives through but he never sees Hassan again. But can he do something to honor the friendship they had? What could it be that would stop them from ever reconnecting? the reality is a change in politics that affects Afghanistan and how it is seen by everyone else since the fateful years of change...

This is a very emotional story. I have to say I cried for most of it.
The book is somewhat divided into two parts although graphically we never see that separation. The first section describes Amir and Hassan's childhood and all the great and overwhelming things in their lives until tragedy happens.
The second part already shows us a grown up Amir who, between his memories and remembrances tells us his story and his actions and attempts to restore some of his best feelings and emotions.
I've cried a lot, mostly in the first section, when Amir is telling us hos memories of the childhood and how it changed. I think that, more than an amazing writing skill, is the story itself that pulls you in and makes us helpless in its wide range of emotions.

This is a fictional story but the author wisely included several scenes and references to the culture of Afghanistan, how people act, the differences within the country, the zones, much like every other country out there. Part of the interest, for me, was precisely to learn more, to have these glimpses of the behavior, the notions, the patterns and expectations of the people...

Another interesting element is the political aspect included. I'm not very familiar with the history of Afghanistan but how can someone not know about the taliban influence and all the terrible things that have happened since things changed there? Some of the more challenging passages to read about are the ones describing the switch from normalcy to taliban because this country looked just like any other in the Middle East and now it's what everyone knows and hears about in the news. How sad humans can harm others this way.

Of course, everything related to Amir and Hassan and later on, Amir's experiences in America and what someone asks of him is what truly makes this book. So many things to wonder about, to think... life isn't black and white but often, while reading, I couldn't help but think how wonderful it would have been if only Amir were stronger, mentally I mean, to just know what was right.
What a lesson in life this book is. Even when things seem to go towards a more easy or happy situation, there are always things to discuss about Amir and his life, the lives of those around him... 

There is a lot of violence in the story, many terrible scenes and things one can't help but feel hopeless because we can't change or erase it. It's even sadder to imagine it's still happening nowadays and hose who should care don't even worry or try. But the beauty of certain situations, dreams and past realities is too good to pass over and although I did cry a lot, I still feel glad I read this book.
I'll certainly try more by the author in the future.
Grade: 9/10

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