Friday, October 5, 2012

Banned Books Week: The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

This week is Banned Books Week, which also marks its 30th anniversary this year. Many book bloggers are using this week to feature special posts about censorship, to highlight authors whose works have been challenged, and to read books that have been banned.

I thought I would commemorate this week by providing a review or reflection each day of a book that is frequently banned or challenged. Yes, according to the list at the end of this post, I read banned books - and I'm betting you do the same. (Or, hopefully, will want to during this week.) Today I'm highlighting The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, with a review originally posted here on March 10, 2010.

The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini

"A man who has no conscience, no goodness, does not suffer." (pg. 301)

No matter how much we try to ignore, bury, or forget our past, it is always with us - as well as the burden of guilt that often accompanies the actions we'd prefer to forget, until we can forgive ourselves. Such is the premise of The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini's powerful bestselling first novel.

The Kite Runner is a heartwrenching story about friendship and family, about loyalty and guilt. It is the story of two boys, Amir and Hassan, growing up in Kabul, Afghanistan. Amir is the son of a wealthy man and lives a comfortable life; Hassan and his father work as servants in Amir's home. Amir's mother died during childbirth; Hassan never knew his mother, as she left him and his father when he was very young.

All they have is each other, and what seems to be - until one fateful, life-changing day - an idyllic childhood, even in Afghanistan.

Initially, I wasn't as captivated by The Kite Runner as I was with A Thousand Splendid Suns, which I also listened to via audio. Several times I found myself thinking, "this is what all the hype was about?" Make no mistake: Khaled Hosseini is a truly talented writer, and this is a powerful story - but unlike Suns, the first half of The Kite Runner didn't have me in its grip from the get-go.

That changed in the latter portion of the book. There comes a point in the story (and those who have read it know when that is) when the action steps up pace considerably, and you're on the edge of your seat wondering what happens. Hosseini gives his reader a believable story, and it is one that in lesser skilled hands could fall prone to the tendency to be tied up neatly and perfectly.

That's not this story, and it is even more stronger for it. For if the ending was different would have been a disservice to the character of Amir and minimized his struggles.

It's hard to say much more about The Kite Runner without giving any spoilers away. Despite my initial misgivings, in my opinion it has earned the many accolades it has garnered.

One amusing note: I listened to this on audio, but I also have a printed copy (yay, one book from Mt. TBR read!). In the back of my copy, there's an ad announcing that Khaled Hosseini's next book about Afghanistan "Driving in Titanic City," will be published in summer 2006. I never knew that was the original title for A Thousand Splendid Suns (a much better choice, in my opinion).

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jenclair said...

I read this several years ago and really liked it. Have not yet read A Thousand Splendid Suns, but hope to eventually.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I listened to this one also and LOVED it. After I finished the audio, which I checked out of the library, I then bought the book to keep. I'm silly, right? I haven't read A Thousand Splendid Suns yet but it's on my mile long list :)