I have been putting off reading The Kite Runner for many years now. One: it seemed like a really long book. Two: I knew it would make me cry. I like books that bring out raw emotions in readers, but I have to tread lightly where my feelings are concerned. Sometimes, if the storyline hits a specific nerve, I can fall into an emotional cavern that lasts for days. I am lucky in that I have wonderful students who wouldn’t stop recommending this book to me.
“Why? Why haven’t you read it yet? You have to read it, Miss!”
Finally, I succumbed to their pleas, and I’m so glad I did.
The Kite Runner takes you on a journey not just through Afghanistan, but through your own heart. We learn about the friendship–the brotherhood–of Amir and Hassan. They are both young boys at the beginning of the story: Amir is the son of a wealthy businessman whereas Hassan is the son of Ali, the servant of the household. Hassan and Ali are both very loyal, and Amir’s father (or Baba, as he calls his father) takes very good care of them. Hassan is so devoted to his masters that when Amir asks for something, Hassan will often respond with, “For you, a thousand times over.” Little do we know, however, that this will eventually lead to a heart-rending chasm that forms between the two boys.
Fast forward many years later when Amir and Baba flee to California in an effort to escape the Soviet invasion. Baba finds it difficult to assimilate into society; he was a great man in Afghanistan, one who was revered for his generosity and kindness. Now, he works as a gas station attendant while Amir goes to school. At this point, Amir has not heard from or seen Hassan in years, something that he is both glad for and ashamed of. Amir’s secret–the one that created the division between himself and Hassan–is locked so deep inside of him, he suffers from insomnia and bouts of depression. Eventually, he graduates from college and marries another Afghani immigrant named Soraya. He settles into his life as a husband and novelist until he receives a phone call from Rahim Khan, Baba’s closest friend. Rahim is dying; he asks Amir to come back to the region: “Come. There is a way to be good again” (192).
From this point on, Amir is forced to face his past. He is made to look upon his mistakes, mistakes he made as a young boy, and make it right. Make it “good again.” The final part of the novel is filled with unexpected events; any loose ends are neatly tied up in a profound bow. I stayed up until 3am to finish reading this book. I cried and cried and cried. It was awful. It was beautiful. It was touching. It was reprehensible. It was life. The lives of Amir and Hassan are forever together, forever apart.
My favourite lines are from page 359, which I dog-eared in the middle of the night: “I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.”
I cannot say enough good things about this book. Now I understand why my students wanted me to read it. Thank you.