I am probably the last person in the civilized world who had not read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I can't really explain why I was saving it, but when I saw an ad at Amazon.com claiming that the movie version is coming out November 2, I decided it was time to dig this one out from the TBR pile and read it before some tv ad or print ad will reveal a spoiler I didn't want to know before I read the book. Besides, I always read the book before I see the movie. I'm anal that way.
Now that I've finished The Kite Runner I doubt that there is anything unique or substantially different I can add to what's been already said and written about this book. Since everyone in the universe has already read it, it doesn't make much sense to rehash the plot... which, by the way was good, but the main thing it had going for it was that the majority of it takes place in Afghanistan, an area with which most Americans are not familiar either geographically or culturally.
And that brings up the reason I bought this book in the first place and why I cannot praise it enough. Americans need to be educated about this strange country about which we knew very little but to which we now have a strong commitment. I wanted to understand the story of the Afghanis from the perspective of what life was like before, during, and after the Russian occupation of their country. I can buy all the books I want to read about the development of terrorism in Afghanistan, and I can read plenty of material about the Mujahideen and The Taliban. But what about the Afghani people who had lives and families and homes and schools and all the things we have until their world was turned upside down by a foreign occupation. The main players in the Afghanistan drama get all the press. But what about people just like you and me? What about them?
The Kite Runner brings some clarification to those questions. And it also points out the fact that there are no guarantees that anything will stay the same no matter how stable it may seem to be from one day to the next. In a heartbeat or the whim of some other entity, life as we know it can change, and we are left to cope or die. The human spirit is not a fragile thing, but there are limits to what a person can endure. And there are children left to the mercilessness of unrelenting cruelty.
At a time when globalization makes our world grow smaller and smaller, I think everyone should read this book and others like it so we can understand each other better.