The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The story follows the life of our protagonist Amir, a rich boy from Kabul in Afghanistan, throughout his life. He is best friends as a boy with his servant Hassan, but their friendship sees some dark moments. Later on in his life, Amir is forced to move to America with his father and starts a new life there, only to return yet more years later, haunted by his past, his mission to save Hassan’s son Sohrab from some really awful circumstances in order to redeem himself for his betrayal of Hassan as a boy.
This is actually a book I had on my shelf for months before reading it. A friend lent it to me and told me it was fantastic, but for some reason, I couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm to pick it up. But I couldn’t be gladder that I did in the end! It was such an amazing experience, to read a book set in a completely different culture, that I previously knew absolutely nothing about and to then become so immersed in it. Of course I can’t know that it was actually an accurate representation, but I think I got a real feel for a whole different way of life. This book is probably nearly unique in the way it portrays an afghan culture to a western audience. It highlights the differences between the two cultures perfectly, when Amir and his father move to America.
The story is one that really touched my heart. I felt for the characters more than I usually do, which is saying something and they felt like real people to me. I liked how Amir as the main character wasn’t perfect and faultless as some main characters can be. He was a coward and he let down his best friend so deeply that I wanted to travel through the pages to get through to him and make him change his actions. But he acted as many human beings would, and it had to happen that way, for this is a story about cowardice and bravery, friendship and betrayal, right and wrong, guilt and redemption and the nature of evil. One of the key scenes early on in the book is horrific on a number of levels, so be warned, but again it’s crucial to the story.