The winter of 1975 is unforgettable to Amir. So unforgettable that 24 years later, he is forced to revisit this past in order for him to be able to move forward. This is an act that is geared towards finding peace with himself. Something that his friend, Rahim Khan, refers to as a chance to be good again.
The Kite Runner is a story narrated by Amir in his adult life where he takes us back to his childhood. Living in America in the present where he and his father sought asylum when war broke out in Kabul, Amir narrates about his childhood in Afghanistan before they were forced to leave their motherland.
He narrates a childhood where he grew up with his father, whom he refers to as Baba, after his mother passed away while giving birth to him. A death that affects Baba deeply.
Amir narrates about his playmate Hassan, the boy whose father, Ali, was their servant (Hazara). He tells us how growing up, he kept trying to win his father’s approval and how it bothered him that Baba was fond of Hassan, suspiciously, more than he was of him.
At the age of 12, the lives of Amir and Hassan, two ordinary children who loved to fly kites on the streets, is changed by an event that leaves an unaddressed yet poignant rift between them. Amir has to contend with a conscience that eats him up and insomnolence that refuses to leave him.
It is while at the age of 38, while far away from Kabul, while miles away from Hassan and miles away from his past, while he is now an established writer, married to a beauty called Soraya, that the past beckons at Amir. This is where he is forced to contend with the fact that the past can never stay buried because it will always claw its way out.
Amir is forced to go back and revisit his home land, revisit a past that he had tried to leave behind. Going back to Kabul was Amir trying to find a way to be able to asleep again.
He is forced to confront this past while reeling in the shocking discovery of what the war had done to his country in his absence. The city of Kabul unrolls before his eyes, a stark contradiction of how he remembers it. He comes face to face with the aftermath of war. The streets are strewn with beggars; children and women whose husbands have been killed. Men live in fear of the Talibans who patrol the streets throughout the day. All the trees have been cut leaving behind ‘Rubble and beggars’ – a sight that leaves him devastated.
Khaled Hosseini takes storytelling to another level. He writes in a way that makes you feel as if he is standing before you narrating the story to you himself. I was intrigued by how he used his writing to subtly show Baba’s struggle with English when they first landed in America and to progressively show his language improvement with time.
I would not describe the book using the famous word ‘unputdownable’, especially since this is not a fast-paced book. You might even find the beginning to be a bit slow, but rest assured that your emotions will be wrenched.
I rate The Kite Runner 3.5 out of 5.