TITLE: The Kite Runner
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: August 1, 2003
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 12 hrs and 6 mins
GENRE: Historical Fiction
Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of its monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner is the unforgettable and beautifully told story of the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant, is a Hazara - a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them. When Amir and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him.The Kite Runner is a novel about friendship and betrayal, and about the price of loyalty. It is about the bonds between fathers and sons, and the power of fathers over sons - their love, their sacrifices, and their lies. Written against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, The Kite Runner describes the rich culture and beauty of a land in the process of being destroyed. But through the devastation, Khaled Hosseini offers hope for redemption.
This gut-wrenching story of love, friendship, betrayal, and redemption moved me to tears!
The story starts off in December 2001 with the main character, Asif, remembering a day in the winter of 1975 that changed his life. He receives a call from a friend in Pakistan, Rahim Khan, who asks him to come see him and telling him, “There is a way to be good again.” Asif, now living in San Francisco, then recounts his childhood and that day in 1975.
Asif’s mother died during childbirth, and he always felt as though his father never forgave him for that. He constantly tried to get his father’s love and attention. He spent his days playing with the servant boy, Hassan, who lived in the mud hut with his father behind the mansion. Hassan utterly adored his best friend, Asif. He would tell him, “For you, a thousand times over.” Hassan and his father, Ali, are Hazaras who are generally looked down upon by the Pashtuns. Hassan was teased by other kids because of his flat-nosed Mongoloid features. He was also born with a cleft lip. Ali and Asif’s father grew up together, and now their sons are growing up together as well.
Without giving away too much of the story, an incident takes place when the boys are 12 years old. Rather than stand up for and defend Hassan, Asif runs away. He acts like a coward, and his guilt plagues him so much that he asks his father if they can replace the servants. Asif’s father is horrified and tells him that Ali and Hassan are a part of their family and loved and that their place is with them. Asif resorts to framing Hassan by planting his birthday money and a watch beneath Hassan’s bed and then accusing Hassan of stealing the items so that his father will send Ali and Hassan away. Although Asif’s father forgives Hassan (even though Hassan didn’t actually do it!), Ali and Hassan move out. Ali knew that his son didn’t actually steal Hassan's gifts, so he asked his son what was really going on between him and Asif. Hassan tells his father about the incident, which explains Asif’s behavior towards Hassan. This event is what shaped Asif’s life, and it has tormented him. When he receives that call from Rahim, he knows that he must return to face his past.
Oh, my goodness! This book just tore my heart out!! It pained me to hear how Asif treated Hassan. I definitely was sickened at what Asif had done, and I wondered how I could get through this book when I disliked the main character so much!! Khaled Hosseini is brilliant. He finds a way to make us empathize with Asif, and he does give us what we want which is to see Asif get what he deserves. The story is both beautiful and tragic, and I learned a lot about the culture and politics of Afghanistan.
The author also narrated this book, and I felt like I was sitting in the room with him while he read to me. If I was reading the book, I may have struggled with the pronunciation of the names so I do think there is an advantage to listening to hear things as they should be read. A word of warning though: You will cry while listening! I listened to this audiobook on my work commute and, more than once, Hosseini had me gasp and say “NO!” while I was listening and I shed many tears. It’s a very emotional read, and I know this is one that is going to stay with me for a long time. Here's a sample of the narration:
“A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything.”
“Time can be a greedy thing - sometimes it steals the details for itself.”
“For you, a thousand times over.”
Hosseini is a new-to-me author, and I cannot wait to read more of his books! I am also planning to watch the movie, and I sure hope it lives up to the book! I’ll come back to add my thoughts on the movie after I watch it.
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