“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini
(First publication: 2003 / This edition: Bloomsbury 2014)
Taken during a quick coffee stop with my friend at Slow Cafe by Room 111
For you, a thousand times over.
The first time I heard this book was probably when I was in 9th or 10th grade (ugh, has it been almost ten years already—please slow down). My then-boyfriend recommended it to me—we never really talked about books all that much. We both liked books, but we had different interested. When he recommended it, the title just entered one ear and flew out of the other. See, I was religiously reading “Gossip Girl” back then (no judgment please) and anything that doesn’t sound like a too-scandalous-for-high-school-girls chick-lit was just not for me.
Over the years, I’d hear about it now and then from people—that they recommended it and that it’s one of their favorites. One of my best friends actually told me about how she and her friends kind of petitioned for it to be allowed in school when she was in high school—how she felt that it’s such an important read that it shouldn’t be “banned” from studying it.
They all sparked my curiosity… but not really my interest.
I bought this book when I was about to leave Hong Kong back in the summer of 2015. Again, the whole “buy 1, next one half-price” sales! I ended up getting four Jane Austens (still haven’t read any), some book about the world’s greatest speeches (…what?), “A Thousand Splendid Suns” (still haven’t read), and this one—”The Kite Runner”.
I was trying to find something to read from my shelves (trying to do a book-buying ban for a while), and came across this one again—after dismissing it so many times.
After just a few chapters in, I knew I was in for something that will probably be the most heavily emotional book I will ever read. I remember I was reading it on the train back home and my heart literally stopped and it was difficult to breathe.
I don’t want to spoil it for those that haven’t read it yet—it’s mainly about a friendship between two boys of different social status in Afghanistan and what happened one day that changed their bond and their lives. The love, the bond, and the sacrifice involved make this the best and most intense friendship story I’ve ever encountered, albeit the most heartbreaking one.
To be honest, reading this made me feel guilty. It made me realize how clueless and ignorant I am about world issues. I’m one of those people that hated doing “current events” reports in school and I barely keep up with any political or world news. It makes me feel pretty shallow, when I think about it. So, this book opened up my eyes a lot about what goes on in Afghanistan and what used to happen there (and probably happens now in some parts). The book covered religious and ethnic cleansing, in the rawest, bluntest ways. It also covered rape and child abuse. I definitely skimmed through some paragraphs because I didn’t want some bloody or violent image in my head—which, of course, made me feel shallow again for intentionally trying to be ignorant of issues that, sadly, really do happen in our world.
The content—the story—is addictive so I often had difficulty putting it down—wanting the train to keep going a few more stations or at least slow down. However, the writing itself sometimes bothered me. I felt the writing style was trying too hard to make the reader feel a certain way—and not leaving any room for the reader to let them feel out their emotions or their thoughts towards the situations at hand. It just feels like my emotions (the repetitive heartbreaks, occurring every ten pages or so) were manipulated; it felt as if I was cornered into feeling so emotional and so depressed and so shocked and so my-heart-just-stopped.
Anyway… with that said, I still enjoyed the book a lot because I felt that it opened me up to a large issue that I kept ignoring. It opened me up to Afghan culture; it even makes me want to visit Afghanistan and learn more about its history and culture.
Now… Would I recommend this book? Definitely.
I’m not sure if I’d want my (future) kids to read it when they’re still in school though—not because of the dark and violent issues discussed, but just because I don’t think that even I would’ve wanted to have all those graphic imagery in my head when I was 14-15. I mean, I’m 25 and I even had trouble reading some parts.
But, yes, it’s definitely a book that everyone should read at least once in their lifetime.