Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, © 2003, Anchor Canada

In 1975, Amir is 12-years-old. He lives in an affluent neighbourhood in Kabul with his father Baba, their servant Ali, and his son Hassan. Both Amir and Hassan's mothers are gone; Amir's during his childbirth and Hassan's fled as soon as he's born. The boys are a year apart, but despite Ali and Hassan being servants, Baba treats both boys like sons. Much to Amir's occasional annoyance.

While Amir and Hassan lead a mostly charmed life, despite their difference in stations, their world is on the brink of catastrophic change. In 1973, the monarchy is overthrown. Russians are set to overthrow the government and turn Afghanistan into a war zone. Everything is thrown into question. But it is the vile act of bullies after a local kite fight that is the ultimate act that challenges Amir and Hassan's friendship. A friendship now earmarked for failure.

As Hosseini weaves his tale, questions of friendship and loyalty are held up for inspection. Can true friendship exist between different castes of people (Amir is Pashtun and Hassan is a lower caste Hazara)? What would you be willing to do for someone? The biggest question raised though is can you go back and make things right when you feel you have failed someone in the past.

Amir carries the weight of his disloyalty to his friend long after him and Baba flee the war in Afghanistan for the more peaceful climes of California. A phone call many years later gives him the opportunity to go back in time and make a change though. Is he strong enough to face the awful memories that plagued him from the fateful day of the kite fight in 1975? Can he repair the damage done?

If you haven't read this book already, it is well worth the read. You won't find easy answers to your questions, but you just might find that "there is a way to be good again." Forgive yourself your demons and dive in to Hosseini's excellent first novel.

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