The Kite Runner is the story of Amir and Hassan, two boys growing up in Afghanistan in the 1970’s, before the Russian occupation and the eventual Taliban regime. Amir wants so badly to be loved by his father that he often puts his best friend, Hassan, down in order to make himself look and feel more important in his father’s eyes. One day, after an exquisite kite tournament that he has won, Hassan goes to run and capture the blue kite that belongs to Amir as the victor of the tournament. When Hassan doesn’t return immediately, Amir attempts to find him and ends up witnessing an act of violence by Assef, Amir’s nemesis. Amir runs away, afraid to stand up for Hassan. It will haunt him for many years to come, even after he moves to America. Many years later, his father’s former business partner and close friend calls Amir out the blue, offering a chance of redemption, if Amir is brave enough to take it.
This is an emotionally powerful book. From the very first page I was invested in the story of Amir and Hassan. I wanted Amir to make amends with Hassan so badly, I was torn when Amir wouldn’t stand up for him, a friend as close as a brother. Although this is a very bleak story, not only chronicling the inward suffering of a family, but also the horrors that occurred in Afghanistan, I did not want to stop reading. Throughout the novel the recurring images of kites flying bring hope and resonate in the very end, when Amir is teaching Sohrab (Hassan’s son) how to run a kite. I thought The Kite Runner was a powerful, heart-wrenching story that touched me as an adult reader, and certainly would have done the same if I had been my teenage self reading this novel. Although the theme of rape is very present in the novel (Amir is haunted constantly by the image of Hassan after what Assef has done to him), I personally thought that it was very important for understanding the pain and the destruction of so many childhoods and hopes in Afghanistan by its occupation of two violent regimes. And that’s really the importance of the kite; in the end, it is the hope for a childhood, for innocence and happiness again, not just for Sohrab but for the Afghani children also suffering as well.