Kite Runner (Review)

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The Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini, 2003
400 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
July 2007

This book is a top club read, many claiming it as one of their favorites. And for good reason.

The story follows the plight of two Afghan boys. Raised without mothers, the two were fed at the same nursemaid’s breast, creating a bond of brotherhood that was to last a lifetime. Of course it doesn’t.

The story hinges on Amir’s eventual betrayal of Hassan, whose father is the family servant. Years later, when living in the U.S., Amir receives a call to return home, where he must atone for the past—and find a way to regain his basic goodness. 

The first third of the book gives us a world of enchantment. We see Afghanistan in the 1960's and early '70’s, a long-lost land of brilliant skies and lushly cultivated gardens. Once the storyline moves to the U.S., the book takes a more prosaic turn. Amir’s father, formerly a comanding figure, is sadly diminished. And Amir’s inner struggle—which makes the earlier chapters so compelling—gets put on hold. Still, we're given an intriguing glimpse into traditional family rituals as Amir courts and marries a young Afghan, also in exile.

Unfortunately for readers, the story hits a wall on page 202. With a single revelation, the narrative becomes contrived and heavy-handed with coincidence. The story ends well, as you certainly want it too, though I wish Hosseini had taken more care.

Yet despite my bickering, this book is easy to love and hard to put down. It’s particularly apt given all that is happening in Afghanistan today—a reminder of how easily lives and societies are shattered by the brutality of war. Don’t miss this one.

For book clubs, it might be fun to play clips of the 2008 movie, comparing it to members personal visions.  (The movie is splendid and, in some ways, is an improvement on the ending, especially the faulty section I mentioned two paragraphs above.)

See our Reading Guide for The Kite Runner.

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