The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a riveting story about redemption- told through the eyes of a privileged Afghan boy named Amir. Set in 1970s Kabul, Afghanistan, we are not privy of its class and societal norms and differences, for it is a key factor which contributes to the actions of our main protagonist. Whilst Amir’s greatest struggle is to impress his father, his best friend Hassan must deal with the inequities and discrimination of being a Hazara. Despite the class differences, Amir and Hassan maintain a strong friendship that is ultimately put to the test, calling all of Amir’s ethics and morals into question. What happens when you hurt those you love the most?
Personally, I enjoyed this book thoroughly. Admittedly, I did have several problems with regards to the main character. There isn’t a rule stating that all fictional characters absolutely had to be likeable, but in Amir’s case; it worked against him. My opinion of Amir is contradicting as the whole point of the novel is redemption. It is fundamental that in some way he has committed something to provoke regret. However, Amir’s actions at several points in the novel left me reconsidering whether I truly wanted him to redeem himself and gain the satisfaction of doing so. The counter argument is that it’s highly unrealistic to lack flaws- and therefore I tolerated Amir as I grew to see him as a truly real and complex character. That still doesn’t sway my initial thoughts on his actions, as I would have done many things differently. All in all, Amir is a reliable narrator who does not hide the fact that he is human and makes mistakes.
Lastly, I would like to discuss how well the setting of the book was executed. Mr. Hosseini leaves very little to the imagination when he describes Kabul in that particular time period. It’s safe to say that it was even unnecessary, as Kabul is a real city in a real country, and prior knowledge of the setting should guide us through this story. However, Kabul is brought to life in this novel. I felt as if I was there, and that I can easily hold a conversation about the place solely based on what I have read. Hosseini managed to capture the essence of Kabul- from the day to day lives of privileged Afghans such as Amir known as Pashtuns, to the oppressed Hazaras who often make ends meet by serving the upper hand. Landmarks that I have never heard of would even seem familiar to me.
Overall, I recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction and interesting characters as it will not disappoint.