Today across the blogosphere, in support of Banned Books Week, hundreds and hundreds of bloggers are reviewing a banned or challenged book they’ve read. Well, I’ve made no secret of the fact that I suck at reviews (in fact, I hate them – they remind me of doing book reports in school), but because this is an important week, I will contribute my two cents about my favorite challenged book, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
Every so often I read a book that makes me so emotional, I can’t stop thinking about it for days afterward. The Kite Runner is a book like this. Set in the political and religious upheaval of Afghanistan in the 1970s, Amir is a young boy who knows all about the terrible thing that happened to his best friend Hassan. But instead of speaking up about it, he keeps quiet. This really bad choice sets him up for a lifetime of guilt and affects every decision he makes, long after Amir and his father flee Afghanistan for the States. Years later, he’s given the opportunity to right some of the past wrongs, but some things are so awful they can never be fixed.
The Kite Runner is a painful read. It’s not sunshine and rainbows, and if you’re waiting for some massive, redemptive payoff at the end, you’re probably not going to get it. The one moment of pure joy in the book is marred by an act of extreme violence against one of the most lovable characters. It made me want to throw the book across the room and stop reading.
Sound depressing? Well, it is. But it’s also a story that needs telling, because violence against children happens every day, everywhere. Political oppression is a reality for millions of people. And at some point in our lives, we’ve all made terrible decisions we’ve had to live with.
The Kite Runner is a story about fathers and sons, friendship, choices, political tyranny, and a journey towards redemption. Hosseini’s prose is far from perfect, but his voice is unflinchingly honest. It’s one hell of a debut novel.
Have you read it? What did you think?