THE KITE RUNNER by Kahled Hosseini

Reviewed by Nordeen Morello of Book-’Em

The Kite Runner (November 3, 2004)Khaled Hosseini's first novel, The Kite Runner, is the story of Amir, an Afghanian expatriate living in San Francisco today. Amir grew up in Kabul as the only son of a wealthy and respected widowed businessman, Baba, in a home with lower class Hazara servants. Illiterate, "pure," and trusting Hassan, son of their loyal servant Ali, is Amir's age, devoted companion, and source of the secret conflict and guilt that Amir will carry with him into adulthood. Now 39 years old, married and a novelist, Amir narrates his story as a flashback.

The Kite Runner is good storytelling! "After the first few pages, I couldn't and wouldn't put the book down," said one member of Book-'Em. This is a novel of substance in both its story line as well as the historical and cultural chronicle of Afghanistan that it offers. Several Book-'Em members were struck by the contrast rendered on these pages between the images we have of the country from Taliban and post Taliban days and the earlier Afghanistan of Amir's youth. This enhanced our appreciation and overwhelmingly favorable impression of The Kite Runner. Our readers enjoyed the imagery Hosseini crafts, especially that of the kite tournament with its gaily dancing but dueling colored kites on the glass coated strings which left scars of battle on the human palms below.

Our uniform criticism of the novel is that several of the sub-stories and lesser characters were gratuitous, contrived bids for a future Hollywood contract. Yes, we probably would go see the film.

The evening's discussion centered on our feelings about Amir: his character, values and behavior. Interestingly, we held very different viewpoints. One member stated "I wasn't able to think of him as the proverbial coward" while others not only viewed him as "a wimp," but also actively disliked the character. Several other members graciously offered understanding and a defense of his flaws. But we again reached consensus that Hosseini concluded with a poignant and hopeful ending that redeems his character without falling into a fairy tale "happily ever after."

This is a novel that deals with larger questions and issues: racial and religious prejudice and persecution, guilt, betrayal and redemption, familial bonds and obligations, goodness and evil in the human character. It is also very much the story of Afghanistan and its' people. We liked it for engaging us, for touching us, for teaching us and for being so readable. Book-'Em is fairly certain that it will work for your next book club selection too.


FROM THE EDITORS: Find reviews contributed by other local book clubs at: www.larchmontgazette.com. We'd love to hear from other Larchmont book clubs and readers; email us at publisher@larchmontgazette.com.


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