This is my first ever attempt at a book review. I have to say, I’m doing it as much for me as for anyone out there reading this. In spite of my love of reading and even of literature classes, I have never done well at evaluating a book overall. I’m not really a big picture person. But I’m learning. I’m not sure I’m learning enough to put it all into words on a page, but I’m trying.
So, here goes.
The Kite Runner.
My husband and I picked up this book after a good review by Marvin Olasky, editor of World Magazine. I read the first fifty pages, intrigued, while I sat at our school book fair waiting for children to bring money to exchange for books. Then my husband took it over.
Intense and disturbing. That’s all he would say as he read. Intense and disturbing.
“But was it worth it?” I asked when he finished (he read three straight hours on Saturday.) I asked this for a reason—a reason like Cold Mountain, where I labored on and on only to hate the ending and want to chuck the book across the room. He considered his answer for a moment. “Yes, it was worth it.”
So I began, fifty pages in already.
This is a beautifully written book about a time too close to be remembered (the late seventies, early eighties) in a place far away (Afghanistan.) The words, the images, while definitely intense and disturbing in places, took me into a place I’d never been, never imagined I wanted to go, into a culture I knew nothing about. It is a story woven over a span of thirty-five years with unforgettable, real characters, in spite of their unfamiliar location.
The relationships between Amir and his father and their servants, Hassan and his father, Ali, intermingle with bitter and sweet, with truth and lies. Among life and death, wins and losses, normal days and extraordinary ones, Amir must deal with the choices he has made. They shape his life and his relationships. In the end, they define who he is. The story takes unexpected twists and turns and leads to a bittersweet but satisfying ending.
It is an intense and disturbing book in that it shows the depravity of our hearts, but it also shows our capacity for forgiveness. It made me consider my actions, why I make the choices I make. I wept, not only for Amir and his life, but for the regrets I harbor in my own, as well. The only flaw here is that the forgiveness and redemption do not flow from their only true source: Christ.
But The Kite Runner was a beautiful, haunting read. One I don’t think I’ll ever forget.