Oh y'all. I know this book was a #1 New York Times bestseller for over two years. I know all the reviews are stellar. I know everyone thinks it's so powerful and important and real.
But I hated it. I really, really, really did not like it at all. Maybe reading it right after reading Night was not my finest decision and maybe that somehow affected my reaction, but I will not be picking up any more of Hosseini's books.
The Kite Runner was published in 2003 and is the first of Khaled Hosseini's three novels. After the success of this novel, Hosseini quit his career in medicine to become a writer full-time.
The Kite Runner is about a boy named Amir and his horrible life. Like seriously, his life is just awful from pretty much the beginning of the book to the end. When you have a story filled to the brim with child rape, dysfunctional father/son relationships, the ravages of war, profanity, senseless executions, misplaced hope in an empty religion, child suicide, and let's just throw in infertility and nearly impossible inter-country adoptions for good measure, you have a story I don't want any part of.
I've been processing this book and my reaction to it for weeks now and trying to pinpoint exactly why I am so strongly against it. Arguments that people have given me in defense of this book include the "realness" of it, the "redemptive" qualities in it, the attention it draws to a country and region that is in such constant and seemingly endless turmoil. I guess I can get where people are coming from. Maybe. A little. I wrote just last week on this very blog that I think it's important to read about the depths human depravity can reach, to educate ourselves, to remember. Knowledge is power.
But this story is fiction. And I think my intense distaste for this book stems from the knowledge that these awful things do happen in real life. So why do we want to make up more bad stories with sad, hopeless endings and read them? Do you know what I mean? There's enough horror and tragedy in this world without creating more of it. I personally didn't find any redemptive qualities in this book. It was depressing to the very last word. I can't feel good about characters who have suffered through the very worst of human wickedness and have no higher eternal hope at the end of the story. That's not a good read for me.
I read this book because of all its accolades and because friends whose literary opinions I trust recommended it to me. But I can't personally recommend it. The writing itself wasn't anything extraordinary or earth-shattering, and I was sorry I read it. Good luck to you if you decide to.