I was never familiar with the book despite being a New York Times Best Seller and having a movie adaptation. I discovered the book on my random trips to Book Sale after a long day at work. At that time, I remember having an almost empty wallet. I was pulling the days for payday. For reasons I don’t know, my feet brought me to Book Sale to check out interesting titles. I rummaged the disorganized shelves, which the sales personnel have been tirelessly arranging every time. I found the book and read the usual synopsis printed on the back cover. It sounded interesting but not enough to make me purchase. I left the store and went home.
Before I slept, I did my usual online habit. I checked my email and blog. Minutes before logging out, I remembered the book and searched for credible reviews. I was quite surprised with the positive reviews and feedback, starting from Goodreads. The next day after work, I was in the same mall with a friend. I remembered the book as we passed by Book Sale. With still a struggling wallet, I decided to purchase the last dilapidated copy. Book fate and destiny, the exact copy I held yesterday was still alive. I took out my last few hundreds and brought home the Php 180 ($4) copy of The Kite Runner.
If I bought a brand new copy of the book, it would have cost me around Php 600 ($15). True enough, this was the best purchase I made for Php 180.
Kite Runner relates the story of Amir and Hassan, two boys who grew up in the unjust and unstable environment of Afghanistan. Amir is the fortunate son of a wealthy and powerful father, whom he called Baba. Hassan is the son of a Hazara, a discriminated and oppressed minority group in Afghanistan. Ali, Hassan’s father is an adopted brother of Baba’s family. Despite being servants, Ali and Hassan were treated as family by Amir and his Baba. Amir and Hassan grew up like real siblings. They were bestfriends not until what happened in the winter of 1975.
Hassan and Amir were eventually separated. Years after, the turmoil in Afghanistan exacerbated. Amir and his Baba were forced to leave their home and country for a better and secured future. This move meant new life and hope for Amir. But for Amir’s Baba, it appeared as a hell of punishment. Baba is not used to the life of an ordinary citizen. This was his first taste of poverty and economic struggle. He longs for their old life back in Afghanistan with Hassan and Ali.
Amir found the life that was deprived to him in US. He finished school, pursued his passion in writing, published a novel, met his wife Soraya and more importantly, found that drop of father’s affection he has been longing. This was Amir’s longest struggle as he grew up having no memories of his mother. Baba was portrayed as the father who wanted a son perfectly resembling his strength. Destiny played on them because Amir grew up as the perfect contradiction.
Amir thought that life is turning perfect for him with Soraya. Amir faced another struggle of having a childless family. While life is becoming stable for Amir, he later found himself returning to Afghanistan. He knew that this journey should settle what he left in the winter of 1975.
Kite Runner is the story of Amir and his struggles. It was presented in Amir’s perspective and this excellently conveyed an aspect I always search in novels, Character Development.
Amir was initially presented as weak, fearful and fainthearted. As the story progressed, he was able to shift to a man of perseverance, determination and bravery. Amir’s character was crafted to further draw readers to the story. In my case, I felt the author telling me there's a certain Amir that exists in each of us.
A realization I had from the story is society’s unwritten rule of remembering people. Between your strengths and weaknesses, people are often attributed to their weaknesses. In like manner, we often underestimate our capabilities. We sometimes punish ourselves with our weaknesses. We forget that we have strengths and capabilities waiting to be unleashed.
I started reading the book during the holiday break. In one of those days, I remember encountering an elder lady who told me that I’m reading a very sad story. More than the melancholy atmosphere, Kite Runner is overflowing with themes. It showcased a struggling Father-Son relationship. There is a depiction of guilt, betrayal, fear, friendship, trust, loyalty, acceptance, revenge and more importantly, self-redemption.
As for plot development and substance, Khaled Hosseini proved to be another master in this field. As the story progressed, I was brought to the dark and hostile environment in Afghanistan. I also discovered the struggles of an exile and immigrant to US. Amir's journey of overcoming his weaknesses and redeeming himself were perfectly executed in the novel.
Compelling, moving and at some point, the book became inspiring. I have no second thoughts of giving this book 5 out of 5 stars.