The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini had been something I’d wanted to read for a long time, so I was glad when it came up recently as one of the reads for my Once Were Wallabies book club. Over the years I had heard so many good things about this book, and kept noticing it pop up on ‘100 best’ lists, so would it live up to my expectations?
The novel begins in Afghanistan, where we meet two boys, Amir and Hassan, who share an interesting relationship of being best friends while being master/servant. Amir grows jealous of Hassan’s relationship with Amir’s father, and yearns to win his father’s approval by winning the local kite competition. On that day, both Amir’s and Hassan’s lives change forever. The story develops by showing us what happens in Afghanistan in the final days of its monarchy to the present, and parallels this by showing us how Amir changes over the years.
I really enjoyed this novel, but couldn’t put my finger on why I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. It was only when we had our book club meeting and someone else mentioned the cliches within its circular story that I realised that’s what I took a dislike to. Upon reflection, the book is riddled with them, and also with a lot of ‘Oh, come on, that’s out of character’ moments, but, although those are things that normally completely put me off a novel, that wasn’t the case this time.
Despite what I think of the above being some lazy author moments, I was absolutely captivated by the way the Afghan history was written. While others in my book club got emotional reading about what was happening with the characters, I found I was more moved by seeing what had happened to the country. That’s what saddened me more. Don’t get me wrong, I am not such a cold fish that I had no emotional attachment to the characters, but each person finds in a book what they connect with as an individual, and mine was obviously different to the norm.
All in all, I ended up finding this to be a real page turner and an enjoyable read, just not one of my favourites, but a very good read which I can still highly recommend.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – 4 out of 5 stars.