A few years ago I listened to A Thousand Splendid Suns by this author and found it dark and dreary. I wished I had read instead of listened to it because I sensed I would have enjoyed it much more. But because it was quite depressing to me, I put off reading The Kite Runner. About all I knew was it took place in Afghanistan; and I haven't really liked the books I've read about that country. I should have paid more attention to the reviews of others because this is a fantastic book. The author begins the story before the overthrow of the Afghan monarchy, before the Soviet invasion, and before the regime of the Taliban. So I was able to get a sense of what the country and culture was like when it enjoyed a more peaceful and prosperous time. Peace and prosperous are relative terms here as I believe many of the inhabitants were always quite poor; and it has always had a history of violence. But I liked getting a look of that earlier time period.
The story revolves around a young boy, Amir, and his relationship with the family servant's son, Hassan. There is a pivotal event which shapes and colors Amir's actions for the next twenty years. The reader also follows Amir's complicated relationship with his father through this time period as they flee Afghanistan to settle in the United States. Amir eventually returns to his boyhood home to finally redeem himself for his actions when he was twelve.
I loved Hosseini's writing. It is lyrical, expressive and haunting. This book will stay in my mind for a long time. The story itself is so compelling. At first I didn't really like Amir or his father; but as the characters develop and the book follows them over the course of the years; I developed more feelings for them. And the theme of redemption is wonderfully presented. Halfway through the book, as Amir returns to Afghanistan, I could hardly put the it down. This is one of the few books I've read that makes me want to see the movie. I highly recommend it. There is some profanity (not much), some violence; definitely filled with stark realism; but so beautifully written and such a moving story that you shouldn't miss out on it.