Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

The Kite Runner

KiteThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

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It’s not like me to read award-winning books, unless they’re YA fiction of some kind.  But my wife read this book and told me that I had to read it.  That was enough of an incentive for me.

By now, I think everyone knows about this book, one way or another.  Either you heard about it after its release, or you heard about “them” making a movie out of it, or you heard the controversy surrounding the release of the movie.  One way or the other, I’m guessing that this is old news for much of you.  But if you’ve heard about the book, and relegated it to the periphery of your interest, then start thinking about it again, because this is a good book to read.

The last book I read that had this feel to it was The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak.  Both books have a very tragic feel, but it’s very much a foregone conclusion as you start the book that these will be tragic stories: One is set in Nazi-occupied Germany; the other is set in Afghanistan.  You don’t have to be a history or political science major to get the implications of those settings.  Despite the inherent tragedy of the stories, though, each is a hopeful analysis of human nature.  Sometimes we just have to make it through some of our darkest moments to make it to that grace.

One last aside, and then I’ll get to the story: A few years ago, I read a neat essay about the movie The Shawshank Redemption.  The author said that the movie was a great pick-me-up movie.  She anticipated the scoffing, and went into her “No, really!” mode.  The caveat was that you had to make it through the entire movie to reach the payoff of the pick-me-up.  And she’s right.  The Kite Runner is one of those kinds of books.

The Kite Runner is about loyalty, courage, and redemption.  It’s about suffering some of the worst things in the world, but only vicariously.  It’s about friendship, family, faith, and endurance.  It’s about the human condition.  It’s … well, it’s hard to really pin it down.  I expected a character-driven story when I started the book, and was surprised when it seemed to have a compelling plot.  But regardless of the story’s drive, it was a book that I couldn’t stop reading.  It haunted me with its imagery, and kept me thinking about the characters.  I played the “What will happen?” game when I was away from the book.  At first I liked the main character.  Then I hated him.  And then I liked him again.  It was a tough ride.

This is also a book with some brutal imagery.  This is a book set in Afghanistan, partly during the Taliban rule, so it comes with all the territory you would imagine from that setting.  This is what makes the book tragic, but as I mentioned above, the book wouldn’t have its redeeming, hopeful outlook without having to trudge its way through the tragedy.

If you’ve put off reading the book, do so no longer.  It’s definitely worth reading, despite what your usual reading proclivities may be.

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March 28, 2008 Posted by | Adult Fiction, Reviews | 6 Comments