Review of The Kite Runner

Advent Calendar Challenge Day Two

The Kite Runner, a New York Times Bestseller by Khaled Hosseini, is the heart-wrenching story of friendship and loss that I didn’t know I needed. Set in a conflict-torn Kabul, the plot follows the friendship of Amir, a ruling-class Pashtun, and Hassan, the son of Amir’s servant and a member of the lesser Hazara class. Despite the brotherly bond between them, Amir abandons Hassan in his time of need, launching a series of events that tears the friends apart as their families flee in the face of invading Russian forces. Years later, Amir leads a new life in the United States despite his haunting past. When he receives a call from an old friend with a chance to make things right, Amir decides he will do anything to get rid of his ghosts and makes the journey back to his childhood home.

While I normally would not pick up a book with a main character who seems so unlike me, I ended up being very happy that I took a chance with The Kite Runner. Khaled Hosseini crafts his characters in such a way that I did not find relatability to be an issue, even in the characters who seem a world away. From Amir’s first descriptions of his childhood experiences, I became attached to him as a character. Although many of his selfish attributes made me dislike him, these characteristics and others were made to feel so authentic that I began to envision Amir as a real person with motivations and feelings. Hosseini’s whole cast embodied actual, solid people, and to me, that is what makes his work so vivid and haunting. An example of this is Amir’s guilt over failing to aid Hassan. Although I hated Amir for refusing to stand up for his best friend, I could understand his fears and he was redeemed by his later efforts to right past wrongs. If I did not care about the characters, I would not have cared about this plotline whatsoever and Hassan’s plight would have been meaningless.

The other element of Khaled Hosseini’s writing that makes The Kite Runner so special is his ability to utilize style in a way that creates a narrative unlike any other. Hosseini is able to create a strange concoction of simple wording and acute, fierce meaning to push readers into the emotions of every aspect of the story. In chapter 21, the lines, “I saw a dead body near the restaurant. There had been a hanging. A young man dangled from the end of a rope tied to a beam, his face puffy and blue, the clothes he’d worn on the last day of his life shredded, bloody. Hardly anyone seemed to notice him,” illustrate this idea perfectly. Despite the concise nature of the sentences, each word is still effectively able to convey the specific voice and emotion of the narrator. I have never seen anything like Khaled Hosseini’s talent for conveying emotion in the most unexpected ways.

I would highly recommend The Kite Runner to readers looking for an intense, epic novel. Although some scenes can be difficult to read and trigger warnings for suicide, self harm, and rape should be given, The Kite Runner should be an essential read for everyone. Hosseini’s writing style and authentic characterization make The Kite Runner a novel unlike any other.

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