I've heard several folks rave about The Kite Runner. I don't normally read a lot of fiction, so if I'm going to take that dare, it better be good. But every time I do take the chance and pick up a novel, I'm blown away. Such is the case with this book by Khaled Hosseini.
Most every book starts slow for me. It's like we're dating and I'm not sure if it's going to be worth either of our time. So usually, no matter how good the writing may be in any genre, I feel like each book I read gets off to 'a slow start.' Such is the case with this tale, but again, it's not the book – it’s me.
Once Hosseini sets up his characters and the story, get ready for a poignant and meaningful ride. The depth of the soul and the expectations of culture serve as intangible characters in the novel. But the book is more than an expose on immigration or life in Afghanistan over the last quarter century. The book is a love story on every level: friendship, marriage, parenthood, religion. Particularly interesting is the way in which love is balanced (or enhanced?) by a sense of duty or a sense of guilt. I would read the book again just to see how this plays out between each character.
It took me a week or so to trudge through the first 100 pages. But I read the second third of the book in two days. Surprisingly, the book gets very action-oriented. Amir, the main character, is not James Bond, and his ordinariness makes you wonder what lengths you would go to for your friends. I guess you may never know until you're in that situation.
The first quote that jumped out at me was:
 was the year that the Shorawi completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan. It should have been a time of glory for Afghans. Instead, the war raged on, this time between Afghans, the Mujahedin, against the Soviet puppet government of Najibullah, and Afghan refugees kept flocking to Pakistan. That was the year that the cold war ended, the year the Berlin Wall came down. It was the year of Tiananmen Square. It the midst of it all, Afghanistan was forgotten.
Hosseini's book is not about the implications of Afghanistan being overshadowed amidst other worldwide events. But, one does have to stop and wonder if the Taliban's rule could have been prevented had the west kept a closer watch on what was happening. We all know the ultimate ending of what happened under Taliban rule, but if you read the book, you’ll get a glimpse of what it was really like.
And then this quote towards the end impressed me:
Closing Sohrab's door, I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.
Forgiveness is forever a tricky and elusive thing. But I think Hosseini's description allows us to catch a glimpse of what it may be like.