Book Review: The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini

‘The Kite Runner’ was Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 debut novel. It follows Amir, a young boy living comfortably in Afghanistan during peacetime, alongside his friend Hassan, the son of his father’s servant, Ali. From the start of the book, Hosseini navigates the topics of internalised racism and jealousy, Amir is regarded as timid and cowardly, however, Hassan, whose “first word was Amir’s name”, is deeply loyal to his own detriment. Amir feels great frustration and jealousy toward Hassan, as, despite his lower social status, his playmate could do no wrong in the eyes of Amir’s father.

The story focuses on Amir’s silent, and often petulant and violent outbursts of jealousy and desperation to gain his father’s affections, which ultimately leads to both boys experiencing great trauma at the hands of the local bully Assef, and an irreparable rift forming in their friendship. Eventually, in a bid to be rid of his guilt, Amir sets events into motion that would ultimately lead to Hassan and his father leaving their home. But Amir’s guilt doesn’t subside.

Despite Hassan’s absence in Amir’s life as he and his father eventually flee Afghanistan and claim asylum in America, Amir can never truly escape the guilt that clung to him in childhood. 

The novel gracefully navigates Amir’s life in America, milestones weaving together from graduating High School to meeting his future wife, to losing his father, and after fifteen years of marriage, receiving a summons back home with the opportunity finally upon him to right the wrongs of youthful spite and ignorance.

I devoured this novel. Hosseini’s prose was intricate and immersive, with a seamless blend of intimate moments and the blur of years whizzing by. I loved getting to see how Amir’s life in America, and his upbringing from his formerly-influential father, dictated the choices he made as an adult, from he and his wife struggling to have children to navigating returning to Afghanistan in the year 2000, decades after he fled, to see his home in shambles amidst the Taliban’s regime.

The story was heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time and had a sense of optimism running through its core that resonated with me deeply. I, like many, can rate to the theme of jealousy among peers or siblings, and loved that at the root of everything this novel threw at me, was family. I look forward to reading more of Hosseini’s work in the future.

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