I’ve mostly been waiting on Hannah to catch up before posting my review of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. But there was another element of hesitation in terms of posting my review. I don’t quite know what to say about this novel, as I have very mixed feelings about the story. I started reading it just after I finished To Kill A Mockingbird, so I was all jazzed for a different type of “regional, moral story,” and it does not fall short of that very broad description. However, I did not love this book. I’m not sure I even really liked it.
The story follows Amir, the only son of a wealthy and well-liked Pashtun merchant in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Amir’s “best friend” and servant, Hassan, the son of their Hazara servant, Ali. Just like his father, affectionately called “Baba,” and Ali, Amir and Hassan are constantly battling between the bonds of friendship and the accepted social norms (Hazara are considered inferior to Pashtun, and are generally mistreated in Afghani society). Based on this disrespect for the Hazara, Hassan is terribly harmed one day and Amir, hiding and watching nearby, is too scared for his own safety to stop the abuse. This leads to the downfall of their friendship, the banishment of Ali and Hassan from their lifelong home, and the prolonged estrangement of the two families. To make a long story short, the Taliban invades Afghanistan, Amir and “Baba” flee to America, Amir lives many many years in the shadow of his shame, and eventually makes efforts to rectify his mistreatment of his childhood friend.
I found the first 150 pages of this book to be painful. It reminded me a lot of Atonement in that the subject matter was only mildly interesting but the sympathy-factor was through the roof! So many horrible things happen in such a short period of time and it seemed like every page was more depressing than the last. It was nearly impossible to motivate myself to keep picking this book back up after I put it down in order to remind myself that this story was not my own actual life so I need not be so depressed. However, I will say that, though it took me four days to make it through 150 pages of hugely upsetting content, it took me one day to finish the other 250 pages. Let me be clear, just because I finished the rest in one day does not mean that I liked it. It was still sad and pretty much uninteresting, but it wasn’t causing me pain and distress, so I ate it up. I went from hatred of this book to just general dislike.
I can see why this book is so popular and why it had such an impact on society. It gives insight into a region I’ve never experienced and it describes the persecution of a Peoples that shouldn’t be unknown to me. This book was a meaningful history lesson, a geography lesson, as well as religious studies and morals. Still, all that being said, I didn’t enjoy reading this book and I don’t suggest it to anyone who likes to be happy. Masochists, you guys go right ahead. Also, there is a movie based on this book and I highly suggest you don’t go see it. If it stays true to the book, you’ll run the risk of dying from sadness while watching it.
Hannah is buys these days and is running behind, so she will have to let us all know whether she will be reviewing (I’m hoping for a Read This, Drink That segment, too) Mockingbird and K-Runner, but in the meantime I’m reading Persuasion by Jane Austen. I need something mild after Hosseini massacred my emotions. As always, stay tuned and let us know what you think!