The Kite Runner
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini hit the bookstores in 2003 and has since made its way into the hearts of book clubs and readers from all walks of life and backgrounds. This one-of-a-kind tale is toted as a coming-of-age and also a father-son relationship novel. It follows the main character, Amir, who is from the district of Kabul and takes place during one of the worst times seen in that area - the fall of the Afghanistan Monarchy and the rise of the Taliban regime.
Amir is from a wealthy family and is best friends with his father's servant boy, Hassan. Although from different economic backgrounds, the boys find a common interest in kite fighting. Hassan's ability as a "kite runner" is perceived as almost a sixth sense as he always knows where the kite will land without watching it. Amir's father (Baba) loves both boys, yet he is quick to find fault with his own son, Amir, calling him weak and lacking courage.
The kite fighting theme in this novel sets up a difficult path for Amir. After winning a tournament Hassan runs to retrieve the fallen trophy and is met by Assef, the local bully, in the alleyway. Hassan refuses to give up the kite and is beaten and raped by Assef. Amir witnesses the act, but is too afraid to intervene. Amir is torn between his friendship and his need for his father's approval, so he keeps quiet about the incident. Amir's decision and guilt leads him to plot against Hassan, having him exiled from their home. Five years later after the Soviet Union intervenes in Afghanistan, Amir and his father escape and eventually end up in California where a new set of problems arise.
The central theme of Amir's seeking his father's approval amidst a new way of life in a new country draws the reader into Amir's ongoing dilemmas. The reader sees Amir's guilt surface over his silence about Hassan and later his ultimate betrayal of his best friend. However, as the book progresses, Amir is allowed to redeem himself by helping Hassan's son.
Although, author Hosseini, has taken some critical backlashing from people in Afghanistan, The Kite Runner hit the New York Times best selling list and stayed there for over two years. It sold over seven million copies in the US and was also made into a movie. The theme of coming to terms with ones own views of a culture, parental relationships and the good and evil that runs rampant in this world is universal in all people, which is perhaps why this book has been so successful.