The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

77203This week I finished The Kite Runner, the latest book our reading group has tackled. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I have only heard a few things about the movie’s plot, but apart from that I knew was that the book was set in Afghanistan and that the Taliban were in it. So, I was expecting pain and tragedy. I wasn’t far off.

There are some characters that I’ve come across that just seem like lightning rods for tragedy. The boys in this book are a lot like that, especially Hassan. That poor guy never gets a break. The story is told from the perspective of Amir, who turns out to be Hassan’s half-brother later in the book. Amir is hard to like at first. He treats Hassan like a tag-a-long friend, someone to play with when there isn’t anyone else around and who he can boss around. I didn’t start liking Amir until he and his father escape and head for America.

The part I liked the best was the last third or so, of the book, after Amir grows up into a gentle man. He gets a chance to redeem himself and atone for the huge wrong he did to Hassan, when he didn’t tell anyone about what happened to Hassan in the alley. He gets to rescue Hassan’s son, Sohrab. And though he kind of botches it, he still gets to rescue Sohrab and take him far away from Afghanistan.

I will give this bit of advice to anyone who wants to read this book. Don’t go in expecting to understand the fall of the king in 1975 or the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s. This book is about Amir and his family. It’s about good men who try to survive in very difficult circumstances. There are no attempts to understand the motives of the Taliban, although there are some references to how they managed to take power in the first place. In this book, it’s not because of their adherence to a very strict version of Shari’a, it’s because they made the Russians surrender at at last. All of the Talib’s are portrayed as violent, possibily sociopathic, hypocrites. So, read this as a book about redemption and atonement, not as anything political.