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The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
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The Kite Runner (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Khaled Hosseini

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37,802101616 (4.21)1 / 667
GaleGirl's review
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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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 |
Numerous people told me to read The Kite Runner before I finally read it months later in one day flat. Amir, an Afghan boy of a wealthy background lives in Kabul with his father and two servants. One of the servants, Hassan, is a boy Amir's age with whom he has a strange and somewhat uneasy friendship, mainly due to the caste system that essentially likens Hassan to scum. One winter day after a kite tournament that Amir wins, Hassan gets abused terribly by a neighborhood chump and Amir watches on without doing anything. This not only ruins his friendship with Hassan, but haunts him for the rest of his life, even after he evacuates Afghanistan with his father for a new life in San Francisco, marries, and goes on to become a successful writer after attending college. It isn't until Amir receives a phone call from Rahim Khan, a father figure of his who evacuated to Pakistan years after Amir sis, that Amir has a chance to redeem himself.

One of the things I enjoyed most about The Kite Runner was the emotional development evident in Amir over the decades that this story took place in. Hosseini manages to maintain the essence of Amir's being while making the transitions from childhood to manhood evident. While the characters in The Kite Runner suffered much over the span of the novel, I found that in them was a great capacity for love that sustained them through their darkest hours and in the end, it's an act of love that redeems Amir and rights the past. All in all, I'm very glad that I read The Kite Runner, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone ages sixteen and older looking for a poignant yet touching read. ( )
  literarybuff | Nov 4, 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 |
I will start off by saying, yes, I read this because everybody is doing it. I now understand why. Yes, it was predictable, but there was one twist that made it worth it all. Hosseini did a remarkable job of painting a picture of Afghanistan as a beautiful place, one that I had not ever done for myself before. Just for that, I am glad I read this book. ( )
  KatieEmilySmith | Sep 23, 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 |
Kui ma olin punaseks nutetud silmadega ja tühja pilguga seina umbes viis minutit põrnitsenud, ütlesid kaks toas viibinud inimest mulle korraga, täpselt ühel ajal- ära loe enam seda raamatut.
Aga ma võtsin uue paki taskurätikuid ja lugesin ikkagi edasi. Ma pole ammu midagi nii head lugenud.

Kui me joonistame väga täpselt üles mõne kena päikeseloojangu, siis saame üsna kindlasti kriitikutelt sarjata. Suure tõenäosusega pole kompositsioon paigas ning kindlasti oleks see elutruu pilt ka liiga magus. Kui me elus kiigume või peegli lõhume, siis üldjuhul teeme me seda lihtsalt. Et meeldib või juhtus nii. Kui see aga sellisena raamatusse kirja panna, siis muutub see klišeeks. Kas pole veider?
Mina, selle raamatu toimetajana, oleksin päris karmilt mitu tegevusliini ära kärpinud. Samuti poleks vaja olnud hollywoodlikke "saatusepöördeid". Aga kas saab kirjanik parata, kui elu ise mängib sulle need piltlikud kujundid ja tasapinnad ning sümbolid kätte? Külm puhas valge lumi ja suured värvilised lohed sinise taeva, vabaduse, poole püüdlemas. On see kirjaniku tarkus need hetked elust üles noppida või mugavus ja mõttelaiskus?

Loe edasi
http://indigoaalane.blogspot.com/2011/01/khosseini-lohejooksja.html ( )
  Indigoaalane | Jul 18, 2014 |
Hmmm...I definitely went through stages with the book. For the first 100 pages, I truly hated the main character, Amir. He managed to save his name a bit toward the end. It was OK. I wouldn't read it again...but I might be interested in the movie that just came out. Not sure about reading the sequel yet.... ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Hmmm...I definitely went through stages with the book. For the first 100 pages, I truly hated the main character, Amir. He managed to save his name a bit toward the end. It was OK. I wouldn't read it again...but I might be interested in the movie that just came out. Not sure about reading the sequel yet.... ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Powerful and haunting indeed. Truly a modern classic. ( )
  trile1000 | Jul 7, 2014 |
I had to pause to ponder what I truly thought of the Kite Runner. For the most part, I have to say I’d recommend it. Reading about Afghanistan (culture, daily habits, ethnic struggles, wars, immigrants, etc.) was highly informative. The story itself has obvious plot twists (seriously, who didn’t see this coming…) and obvious heart tugs. But for me, they mostly worked (despite some conveniences, one involving a slingshot). Atonement and redemption – powerful themes – were delivered in this book combining well with father and son relationship, friendship, betrayal, guilt, honor, and loyalty.

The book is in three major segments though not specified as such. Part 1 is the past, where the transgressions took place. Amir, the son of the wealthy businessman, noted as Baba only, allows a crime to be done to his friend and boy servant of the house, Hassan. Amir worsens the situation when the guilt he feels leads him to further drive Hassan and his father, Ali, away from the house. Part 2 is the refugee/immigrant/re-settlement phase when Baba and Amir escapes Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion in 1979. Their new lives and the Afghan community in CA is addressed. Fast forward to 15 years after his marriage, Amir is summoned to Pakistan to visit Baba’s old friend, Rahim, to make right – “There is a way to be good again”. Part 3 contains the revealing of truths and the time for atonement and redemption by rescuing Hassan’s son from Afghanistan.

When I finished reading the book, I wondered if there was a person to whom I’d say “For you, a thousand times over.” The absence of which makes me feel hollow on the inside.

Some quotes:
On father and son relationship – an intense theme in the book:
“Most days I worshiped Baba with an intensity approaching the religious. But right then, I wished I could open my veins and drain his cursed blood from my body.”

On religious zealots:
“Piss on the beards of all those self-righteous monkeys. They do nothing but thumb their rosaries and recite a book written in a tongue they don’t even understand. God help us all if Afghanistan ever falls into their hands.”

On suicide – the despair felt by a child, these simple words that summarize most suicide attempts:
“Tired of everything.”…
…”…wish you hadn’t… I wish you had left me in the water.”…
…”I am so khasta.” So very tired.

On forgiveness:
“Closing Sohrab’s door, I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.” ( )
1 vote varwenea | Jul 6, 2014 |
It begins so slow and leisurely - mimicking the lengthy days of childhood. And then races over significant times, like moving to America and marrying a love. I liked that the main character was so unworthy, but that I wanted him to make good. And I feel (maybe mistakenly) that I know slightly more about Afghanistan culture for reading this. ( )
  LARA335 | Jun 29, 2014 |
I read this novel with low expectations since I generally don’t like these types of novels. Unfortunately, this novel barely met even my low expectations. The Kite Runner is basically a long, rambling novel that is almost like a fictional memoir without any real plot, a novel where the writer is trying to wow the reader with his flowery prose rather than tell an engaging story. The story starts in Afghanistan and follows the life of its lead character from childhood to middle age. He is the son of a wealthy businessman and grows up with his father’s servant. Many bad things happen along the way, and Amir and his father wind up in the United States. Many years later, the story comes full circle when he returns to Afghanistan when it is under Taliban rule to find his friend Hassan murdered, and he tries to rescue Hassan’s son.

A novel like this can only work if the reader can get really engaged with the main character. Told in first person point of view from Amir’s viewpoint, I didn’t like his character in the least bit. I found him to be selfish and cowardly, so when good or bad things happened to him, I didn’t care in the least. The only coherence to a plot occurred in the final third of the novel, and by that point I had lost interest. If you are interested in a good story, I would strongly avoid this novel.

Carl Alves – author of Reconquest: Mother Earth ( )
  Carl_Alves | Jun 21, 2014 |
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