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The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Khaled Hosseini

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38,103102416 (4.21)1 / 683
Truly loved this book because of the loving relationship between the boy and his father and because it showed the overwhelming costs and ruination caused by the Taliban in Afghanistan. ( )
  GaleGirl | Apr 25, 2012 |
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totally engaging book with good writing that shows even better potential. some parts were a bit predictable but it didn't really interfere with my enjoyment of the book. i like reading about characters who struggle with the versions of themselves they've created, and this is a nice example of that. also the literal and metaphoric idea of the kite runner is a good one to anchor the book; that was well done. ( )
  elisa.saphier | Mar 29, 2015 |
This was an interesting book. There was something about it that drew me in. I ended up reading it all in one sitting. Well listening, but the same thing. I think it was a combination of the prose and the characters. Something. I can see why so many people liked the book. I enjoyed reading about the middle eastern culture, the little that was portrayed in this book. I think I do recommend this book. :) ( )
  Kassilem | Mar 15, 2015 |
To read--The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father's servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
Set in Afghanistan over the course of 30 years.
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  cm37107 | Mar 5, 2015 |
Amir and Hassan have been close companions since birth in pre soviet Afghanistan. But Amir is from the ruling caste of Pashums and Hassan is from the impoverished servant class Hazara. Their peaceful world is shattered amidst the dying years of the Afghan monarchy in the 1970s and the rise of the Taliban. Amir abandons the loyal Hassan when he needs him the most. After many years of living with his guilt in America he finally seeks redemption when he learns that Hassan was actually his half-brother and makes the journey back to war torn Afghanistan.

I had absolutely no empathy for the self-absorbed main protagonist until more than halfway through the book and felt that the second half of the book was better than the first half. It's a powerful story and I shed tears for little Sohrab and the fate of Afghanistan. ( )
  boppisces | Feb 28, 2015 |
This book was a dichotomy. I simultaneously found it enlightening & trite, engrossing but unevenly paced, enlightening & bewildering. It was so hard to care about the protagonist. I was mostly hooked because I cared about the backround-the culture, the setting, the history. So I liked it but am not sure I could recommend it. ( )
  NetteinNJ | Jan 24, 2015 |
The Very very best book of my reading in 2014. Excellent!!! ( )
  leehua | Jan 10, 2015 |

I liked reading The Kite Runner. It's about a world I didn't know much about earlier. When I read this, I found out all kinds of new things, which made me understand some things I heard better. I liked the story line. First it's all peaceful but in the end your are reading a thriller. Definitely! I would recommend this book to anyone. It's one of those books you should have read! ( )
  Floratina | Jan 4, 2015 |
Just an outstanding book - thoroughly enjoyed it ( )
  JRandolphT | Dec 28, 2014 |
A concise but lyrical prose takes us through a morally complex tale of guilt, betrayal, loyalty and love, as a man struggles to find redemption in an unjust world. Although the book begins in Afghanistan, the fabric of emotional pitfalls and successes are universal themes that transcend the outward differences of individual cultures, and demonstrate the commonality of the human spirit.

The story is touching and poignant, the narrator disconcertingly candid, and there are some moments of suspenseful confrontation. The cross-cultural differences between life in Afghanistan and that in America are also highlighted. Hosseini shows himself to be a writer of vision and sensitivity. I enjoyed reading this book. ( )
  BBcummings | Dec 24, 2014 |
This book was well written. There are some topics in the book that are heavy, but regardless the story plot was excellent. It felt authentic. ( )
  monic.lindsey | Dec 4, 2014 |
I listened to the audiobook on this one. It was read by the author.

This was a very enjoyable book. I didn't know if I would like it when it started but as I got into it I really liked it. ( )
  Kathryn_Brown | Dec 1, 2014 |
Plot -- 20 out of 20 points

For anyone baffled by the Afghan conundrum, this book is the perfect introduction to the complexities of the cultural divide within a country ravaged by endless war and religious conflicts. Kite running was a popular national custom for children, especially in the days before the Taliban. Fiercely competitive and fraught with perils (strings dipped in shattered glass can cut the opponent’s kite free, but they can also injure the kite runner), these tournaments brought great rewards to the winners and shame to the losers. The Pashtuns (Sunni Muslims) are long-time oppressors of the Hazara people (Shi’a Muslims). Amir, the privileged son of Baba, a wealthy man, forms a friendship with Hassan, the son of Baba’s loyal family servant, Ali. Raised together as children, the boys are eventually pushed apart by a series of ugly secrets and heartbreaking cruelty. Cast aside, the brutalized Hassan never falters in his belief in Amir, even through Amir’s own doubts about himself and the world; Hassan’s unfailing love for his friend becomes Amir’s emotional albatross. How can such a humble human being like Hassan, son of a servant, be so forgiving and believe in something far greater than what the privileged son of Baba understands?

Characters -- 20 out of 20 points

Dr. Hosseini has a knack for creating all-too-human characters, with frailties and faults that sometimes push them to the very edge of moral decency. Amir learns early to conceal his own weaknesses by focusing on his social status, even as his conscience foments shame and inflames his inner turmoil. He knows that Hassan is a good and true friend, far more worthy of respect for his actions than Amir is. His jealousy, over the affection his father, Baba, shows the young Hazara, just seems to feed the demons in Amir. But it is the relationships Amir has with Ali, his father’s servant, and the wise Rahim Khan that prove to be his salvation in the end, allowing him to find his way back to the goodness that Hassan represents in a war-weary Afghanistan years later. In that return, Amir discovers his true purpose in life. Baba’s complicated personality was shaped by events hidden from Amir’s view over decades, and Amir, feeling betrayed, must come to grips with the imperfections of other human beings before he can address his own. That he has a wife like Soraya is part of that healing; her strength and determination to forge a better life in the United States after fleeing Afghanistan pushes him to be a better man, even as they cannot agree on what it will take to make him so. For Amir, the real test of courage comes when he returns to Afghanistan and finally confronts the devil he most fears, not by choice, but by necessity. It is that moment that defines him as a human being and lifts him out of the vice of that holds him down. Letting go of tribal Afghan conformity in favor of a greater recognition of humanity becomes his freedom, and he severs the old mindset like a champion kite runner slices the string of a competitor’s kite.

Setting -- 20 out of 20 points
The story takes place over decades and moves from Afghanistan to Pakistan to the United States, and then back again. The changes that these societies go through as the years pass, along with the perils that remain, highlight the tragedy of a nation, Afghanistan, that seems locked into unending war. This fictional story offers a window of understanding into that puzzle. The tragic journey of the refugees as they flee, the struggles of the Afghan community in the United States as people try to assimilate, brings home the reality that there are always trade-offs in leaving the old life for the new. Baba, the once-wealthy man, is forced to take a job as a gas station attendant just to keep a roof over his and Amir’s heads. It’s a sober reminder that, in the end, the hardships faced by humans are sometimes unavoidable; despite the best efforts to improve our lot in life, we are sometimes defeated by physical circumstances until we understand that our faith in and love for our fellow humans can raise us up through the darkness. That is the triumph of spirit.

Pacing -- 19 out of 20 points
As the book opens, the reader is drawn into the world of two young boys. Their idyllic days of playing together, sharing adventures, seem perfect, but little by little, the reality of Afghan life begins to intrude on their friendship, driving a wedge between them. By then, the reader has already begun to feel for both boys. That emotional connection begins to tear the reader apart when sympathy for one boy’s plight is challenged by a conscience desire for justice for the other boy. Amir retreats into his own selfish cocoon, hoping to save himself even as Hassan is sacrificed. It’s hard not to feel dread as the inhumane acts pile up across Afghanistan. The strength of the tribal culture within Afghanistan is apparent as those in charge mete out harsh punishment for any who defy the demands of society. Individuals are forced to choose between acting out of conscience and conforming for the sake of survival.

Tone -- 19 out of 20 points

While much of the book focuses on the harsh realities of Afghan life, the author paints his portraits of individuals with the deftness of an illuminist, adding little glimmers of light to all but the most closed-minded of cretins. The reader’s sense of uncertainty never quite fades, but neither does the hope that one day Afghan will find its way. This book was written more than a decade ago; in the current climate of Islamic jihad that has taken over parts of Syria, Iraq, and other parts of the Middle East in the hope of creating an Islamic caliphate, it still stands as an important story for any reader who yearns to understand how things can become so twisted. What allows the Afghan people to tolerate the cruelty of the Taliban? What allows them to view women as property and the Hazara as servants? The complicated answer to that is revealed in the lives of two young boys whose paths diverge and later reemerge, their bonds woven together like a primitive tribal rug in a pattern created centuries ago and passed down through the generations. ( )
  sarambarton | Oct 16, 2014 |
The novel The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is about redemption and reveals that people have regrettable actions they want to recover from and fix. The story is about Amir’s life from when cowered away from saving his best friend, Hassan, from being brutally attacked to feeling guilty about it through his life until he saves Hassan’s child Sohrab. Amir feels like he has fully redeemed himself after he takes Sohrab back to his house and wife and teaches him about kite fighting.
I think Hosseini’s uses of brutal and vivid images to fully capture the severity and malevolents of the different character's actions makes the story more interesting to read. He implicitly puts Amir’s regret into the story by having Amir feel down and depressed about life and his sad memories of Hassan and him together. I enjoyed reading about Amir’s whole emotional transition and the different aspects of it from feeling happy and upbeat to feeling guilty and down to feeling relieved and guilt free at the end of the story. I also liked how the author embedded values that are intertwined in Amir’s emotional change, like Baba teaching Amir to be strong and stand up to what he believes in. Some of the parts of the book that were not my favorite when I was reading it are when Amir is first with his wife wife and some of the time after their marriage. I understood the point of those sections closer to the end of the book, but they seemed boring and prolonged when I did not understand how it correlated with Hassan and his guilt. ( )
  ColeJP5 | Oct 14, 2014 |
Excellent voice. Lots of twist. Boring in places, but worth the skim over to get back to the good. I love his descriptions. ( )
  imaginationzombie | Sep 28, 2014 |
This book started out okay, then quickly got boring. I hoped it would get more exciting (and it sort of did) but it was all predictable, and very, very depressing.

The author knows how to write interesting phrases, but the story left me feeling a combination of sad and icky. ( )
  piersanti | Sep 28, 2014 |
This book was read as part of our reading group. Basically the group was split, some people absolutely loved it, and others (like myself) thought the book was mediocre, and some hated it. In my view the book was bland. I found the main character to be irritatingly weak and never develops as a person. All the interesting people with character and depth are all the people who live around the main character, e.g. Rahim Khan, Hassan and Shoraib. The main character is so weak I cannot even remember his name.

The writing itself is simplistic, and really glosses over those things that had great potential interest. For example, after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, the author skips over that whole period of history and never discusses how the characters lives were destroyed under the invasion.

I didn't really get a great sense of Afghanistan culture, religion, and society the way the book really had an opportunity to present. One comment that came out of our reading group, that I think is really true, is that the book seemed so formulaic, that you could pick any third-world country and plug the characters into, and the story would almost read the same. Another words, there was nothing that really conveyed a unique perspective of Afghanistan. The book was generic in this sense.

Although, the book had some bright spots and some points in the book where the book was chilling-like where the main character witnesses an execution Taliban-style.

On the whole, the book probably presents enough Afghanistan for most readers to seem exotic, but it really is quite banal. ( )
  inasrullah64 | Sep 26, 2014 |
Even back in high school when I was assigned this book, it was obvious that it was false to its core, the equivalent of a "true crime" thriller, melodrama posing as documentary, a core of cynicism hiding behind a veneer of empathy. ( )
  Audacity88 | Sep 22, 2014 |
This book was definitely better than I expected. I had mainly heard taglines describing it as being about "The one event that changed both their lives forever..." but it wasn't about that at all. That was only a part of it. Really, this was about war, and also about the American immigrant experience. A very fascinating book. Overall, I think it was well-written. Downside: it felt very calculated, and every single thing of note came back in a more important role later in the book. It was too wrapped up in itself. ( )
  GraceZ | Sep 6, 2014 |
A stunning first novel, with beautiful descriptions of Afghanistan before various conflicts broke out. It is a bittersweet tale of families, friendship, loyalyy and shame. I like the simplicity if Hosseini's language, but felt the story let him down somewhat. I was pleased to see there was no twee happy ending. ( )
  martensgirl | Sep 5, 2014 |
O caçador de pipas' conta a história de Amir, um afegão há muito imigrado para os Estados Unidos, que se vê obrigado a acertar as contas com o passado e retorna a seu país de origem. O ponto de partida do livro é a infância do protagonista, quando Cabul ainda não era a capital do país que foi invadido pela União Soviética, dominado pelos talibãs e subjugado pelos Estados Unidos. A história de Amir e Hassan, os personagens de 'O caçador de pipas', já conquistou o mundo. Publicado em 32 países, o romance é um best-seller internacional. 'O caçador de pipas' ganha, aqui no Brasil, uma edição especial, com capa dura, fotos do Afeganistão, especialmente feitas para o projeto dessa edição, e uma carta inédita do autor, Khaled Hosseini, comentando sobre a experiência de ser um escritor afegão estreante nos Estados Unidos depois do 11 de Setembro e sobre como ainda fica surpreso com a repercussão do livro pelas cartas que recebe de leitores de todo o mundo.
  melissa.gamador | Sep 4, 2014 |
I'm struggling to decide whether I liked the book, loved it or hated it with every single inch of my saddened heart. Seriously, it's been a very, very long time since a book touched me so deeply and made me shed so many tears. This book is all about the importance of family bonds, friendship, loyalty, everything written in a fluid, simple, easy language and yet Hosseini managed to turn this book into something deep, imbued with just too much meaning with so few words, it's not even funny.
I was unfortunate enough to get a couple of spoilers for the book (friendly advice: if you're in the middle of the book, it is NOT a good idea to check for the trailer of the movie's adaptation, as it contains mild spoilers), so nothing struck me as absolutely unexpected, yet the book still kept me trapped to its fascinating world until the very last page.
One of the best thing about this book is how it talked about the character's life in the US without patronizing the country, always making sure that Amir was a coherent character, with a heart deeply rooted in the values and traditions of his home country. It was also interesting to finally see a story by the point of view of someone most uninformed people consider a "terrorist".
I just can't seem to find words enough to express how this book change the way I saw Afghanistan, its people, its culture. I loved every single page of The Kite Runner and feel like it's going to leave an empty space in my heart... ( )
  aryadeschain | Aug 26, 2014 |
A very brutal heart wrenching book that is at times very hard to read but worth persevering with for the experience. Not for the faint hearted, at no time did I find it happy or uplifting in any way. Just an intense story. ( )
  areadingmachine | Aug 19, 2014 |
This book reads like a kite. Just when it is going smoothly a strong wind pulls it and your stomach drops thinking it's all about to come crashing down. In the end, though, you'll feel like flying. ( )
  KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
Shortly after starting The Kite Runner I mentioned to someone that I had just started reading it. "Ah, I loved the first part of that book.", she said. I replied with "Oh? You didn't like the rest?" and got the answer: "Oh, I did. It's a good book."
It seemed like a strange thing to say at the time. Having now read the book myself, I think I know exactly what she meant.
The Kite Runner is a really good book for many reasons. It has some really beautiful moments, some really uncomfortable moments, and some moments that are just downright gut-punching. The raw and seemingly effortless way in which it conveys happiness, but also sadness, guilt, hopelessness, anger, and pain makes it a really special book.
At the root of it all is the story of a boy from Afghanistan, and the story of his life as he transitions from childhood to adulthood. With that comes a window into a culture, a way of living, and often a way of thinking that is foreign to me. Much of this is extremely interesting, but more importantly it also feels very real, and adds an extra layer to the story itself.
This book has so much going for it, and it is therefore a bit of a pity that I loved only the first part of it. Because, again, there are so many great things in this book. There are quite a few gear-changes in the story, which isn't a problem in itself, but during one of them I think the book loses some of its emotional intensity, and never quite manages to get it back. It goes from being an engrossing emotional story to being a story with plenty of engrossing emotional moments. While the latter is still good it's just not quite the same.
The Kite Runner is a really well done, solid, good, worthwhile read, and I'd recommend it to anyone. I just think it could have been a little bit more. ( )
  clq | Jul 29, 2014 |
Maybe it's because I'm getting older and seeing how much of a mess life can be, but I don't usually appreciate books where everything neatly fits together. This is one of those books, but it seems destined to be so, and proves a point by doing it. The descriptions of memories are beautiful, and the child's remorse so sympathetic, that the perpetual references to the one seminal event in the child's life is not as tiring as it could have been. Really good story, didn't want to put it down. Hopeful. ( )
  margaret.pinard | Jul 24, 2014 |
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