It tells the story of Amir, a young boy living in Afghanistan, who witnesses a horrific incident involving his friend and servant, Hassan. Be it through fear, cowardice or a desire for love and attention from his father, Amir betrays Hassan and spends the rest of his life regretting it. After immigrating to America as a young man where he makes a new life for himself, Amir makes one final trip back to Afghanistan to try and right the wrongs of his past. But does he ever fully gain redemption...?
If you're looking for a fun, light-hearted book this wouldn't be one for you. Even Amir himself admits that 'If someone were to ask me today whether the story of Hassan, Sohrab and me ends with happiness, I wouldn't know what to say'. The book pushes the boundaries of what we see as acceptable, as it deals with some very sensitive issues such as sexual abuse, children's sexuality, and war and conflict. It doesn't make light reading, but as a lot of it is written from the young Amir's perspective, the difficulties which he faces do not feel too 'real' for the reader.
The book is set over four decades, during the time of both the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the British and American war with Afghanistan. However, these are only touched upon briefly, as the focus of 'The Kite Runner' is not on war itself, but rather the inner conflict one feels when trying to distinguish between doing what it right and wrong. Each of the main characters experiences some kind of inner conflict, which really reflects how war and conflict can affect every single one of us.
Whether you do or don't enjoy reading 'The Kite Runner', I strongly recommend you read it several times again. There are so many things you could pick up on, which you only notice when you are reading for the second, third, fourth time round. There are many parallels between characters, and the author's use of metaphors and imagery is extensive, so some of the things you may not have really picked up on make much more sense the next time you read the book. This is definitely one of those books where you notice something new every time you read it - having studied it in English Literature at A Level you'd think I'd be sick of it by now, but no, each time I read it I end up loving it a little bit more.
I will admit that some of the parallels between the characters, or events later on in the book, seem a little too coincidental and obvious. It is at those points where you are jolted back to the fact that you are reading a work of fiction, and the things you are reading are not real life. Perhaps if Hosseini had been less obvious, but had used the skill of including subtle metaphors and implying certain things which he so clearly has, the reader would have been made to draw their own conclusions and make their own judgements instead.
Nevertheless, if you're prepared to dive into something new and unprecedented, you won't be disappointed by 'The Kite Runner'. As I've said before, it's not fun, light reading, but it will definitely leave you thinking afterwards, and questioning your own morality. Once you've started you won't be able to put it down, so I thoroughly recommend curling up on the sofa one lazy Sunday and reading it!
Summary: A fantastic, unforgettable story about a young boy and his struggle through life to find redemption