Saturday, July 29, 2006

"For You, a Thousand Times Over"

I've been putting off writing about The Kite Runner for a while, because I know that I could never do it justice. So I've decided just to write about it, and say whatever comes to mind. I'm still working on my scholarly essay about it, but as you all know, that could be a while. So you're stuck with this.

Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner was first published in 2003, and I can't believe that I had not heard of it for three years. Why has it taken me so long to read this book? I came across it only because it is the summer read of CL, and my dad bought it and brought it home. I picked it up, and off and on for the next two or three days, I was consumed by this amazing novel.

The debut of Afghanistan-born Hosseini, now a physician in California, The Kite Runner chronicles the lives and relationship of two boys from Afghanistan in the mid-1970's. It reads more like a memoir than a novel, taking us at times into the very soul of Amir, the narrator. At times heartbreaking, at times uplifting, but ultimately redemptive, this book is so powerful that more than once while I was reading I had to stop because I could not see the words--they were being blurred by my tears.

I was so unprepared for the impact that this book had on me, and I still think about it and talk about it nearly every day since I finished it. I don't know how many people I've recommended it to, but I believe that everyone should read it.

What was most memorable and powerful about this book was the unwavering realism it sustained throughout all its 400 pages. Everything that Amir and his friend Hassan experience, I felt that I experienced. The decisions that each of them made, I felt that I had to make. This is especially true for the character of Amir, because since he is telling the story from his point of view, I can literally feel every emotion that he describes. It makes you search yourself, and ask yourself what kind of person you are. Would you do the same in Amir or Hassan's place?

One of the central points of the book is how Amir's relationship with his father affects his relationship with Hassan. Amir and his father, Baba, are very wealthy, and Hassan and his father are their servants. Hassan's father, Ali, and Baba grew up together, and Amir and Hassan are growing up in much the same way. Amir would do anything to please his father, and this is the deciding factor in many of the crucial decisions he makes, especially the ones involving Hassan. I can't expand very much more on the plot without giving things away to those of you who have not read it, but I will say that Amir sets in motion a series of events that essentially cripple his life for the next twenty-six years.

Though we are told the story entirely from Amir's perspective, we are also drawn in by the character of Hassan, who is this novel's Christ figure. While Amir takes us primarily on a journey of redemption, Hassan takes us on a journey of love. He says to Amir, "for you, a thousand times over!" and this lines echoes twice more in the book, connecting Amir's destiny with Hassan's. Hassan is completely selfless; he never stops giving, even after he and Amir have parted. This is the path Amir struggles to find--the road that will lead him to forgiveness, peace, and eventually a changed heart that only wants to give, the kind of heart that he first experienced in knowing Hassan.

In the end (though I won't tell you the actual ending--you need to read this book for yourself!) Amir, who grew up being served, has learned how to serve others. He knows that what mistakes he made in the past have been forgiven, and this allows him to be able to forgive himself.

Though none of the main characters are Christians, this book resonates deeply with Christian messages, namely, love and forgiveness. Such things can never be too often written about, and talked about, and read about. Most of us are probably more like Amir than we would care to admit, but we constantly struggle to become like Hassan. Sometimes giving of ourselves hurts, and sometimes it seems like what we do is of no consequence anyway. But there is always a reason, because God has it all worked out in His plan. And we can only stand in wonder, and with our arms open say to Him and to those around us: "for You, a thousand times over."


riskitall said...

This book is amazing. Everyone who sees this comment, I have one thing to say to you.

Read it.

JB said...

I'm going to read it as soon as I get the chance.

Steven said...

Love and forgiveness did not originate with Christianity. It’s the essences of all major religions and compassionate human beings.

Girri said...

I cannot bestow The Kite Runner enough praise...the book I will remember til the end of my days.

I procurred it on friday and had it read sunday night. An unputdownable read! Breathtaking!

sv said...

The Kite Runner such a good book. I agree with you, I felt all the emotions from both Amir and Hassan. I have read it a few times now (in the past month) and it is such an expierience to read it. I think everyone should read it. It's good for your soul!

shinsarang said...

I'd say one of the best books I've read all year! Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading your comments!

Galvanized said...

Definitely an annointed book. I have been so blessed by it. And, like you, I think about it every few days even a couple of years after having read it. I don't know if you saw the movie, but it certainly did the book justice. Save a couple of omissions, most everything was just as written, and the characters just as in the story. I liked your analysis of it. :)

Timmy said...

The novel is certainly among the better books I have read and you provided a fine summary. However, the message that this story carries is not simply a Christian one, but one that everyone can relate to.

.hue.addict said...

I agree with you that it's definitely a book that no summary can do justice to, and everyone should read it.
Yet, I feel that the message of the book, among of which includes the love and forgiveness you mentioned is not about religion. It's about being humans and living in a world that is sometimes demand us to make choices that change the course of our life.
Christian, or Muslims, or any religion we might practice, the basic human values are something we can all relate to.

anava said...

Kite Runner -the finest piece of writing the history has ever witnessed.And all the moments in the book make us think and rethink to something we can relate. For me, it is an integral part of life. Thank you for the article on it.
Actually, even I agree that it has nothing to do with christianity only as every religion carries the same theme of love and forgiveness. Myself grewing up in a harmony of hinduism and buddhism, I see the same integrity of those two words in those religions as well. So it is more about humanity and mankind.

colleen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
colleen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
colleen said...

hello I've quoted a chunk of your review, I hope it's okay but if it's not, please tell me I'll take it down.

Sarah said...

Thanks colleen! I checked out your site...very nice!

RIM said...

This movie is the pure image of islam in the heart oh HASSAN!
HAssan represents the religion ISLAM with every move he makes !
I adore this novel !