book review: the kite runner, by khaled hosseini

The banner "#1 New York Times' Bestseller" across the top of a book, like yellow and black caution tape around a dangerous plot of land, may be more of a warning than an acclamation for the discerning Christian reader. But that's not how I felt about The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini has an authentic voice. He has mastered the art of writing meaningful fiction, beautifully weaving well-chosen words and images with just the right length scenes. Those of you who follow my literary posts know I love a well-crafted simile, and Kite Runner is full of them! Definitely a modern fiction title worth reading.  

But if America loves it, what should I as a believer be wary of? Good question. 

There is some language, and there are some gut-churning scenes. There will be some who should not read this because it is too painful or not helpful. I pray God will give you that discernment. Hosseini paints an honest picture of child trafficking in Afghanistan as well as a haunting observation of the rape of a young boy. I would say he is fairly discreet in his descriptions, but these awful sketches bring up bile in the back of the throat. Still, they are not gratuitous: they are not there just for shock value and they are not viewed as okay by any means. Evil is painted as evil. The rape of the boy whom he should have viewed as his closest friend--if he had known all the facts, if he weren't so proud, and if he weren't so enslaved to his culture's norm of belittling those who are different from one's self--is a self-horrifying, pivotal moment in the VP character's life. Guilt haunts him. I kept reading after that one awful scene because I had to believe there would be positive change in the VP character. I hoped, and that hope was rewarded.

The changes were positive. The lessons learned, overall good. However, it is not written from a Christian perspective. The VP is Muslim, and so his hope is rooted in that faith. Honestly, that is the saddest part of the book to me because "there is no other name [than the name of JESUS] given among men whereby you must be saved" (Acts 4). 

So what are Kite Runner's positive selling points? 

Excellent writing. 

Incredible character development.

A realistic painting of Afghanistan over the past quarter of a century or so offering insight into another world. 

A challenge to love those who are not just like you because they're more like you than you think. 

The reality that there is always evil and that justice must be meeted out. 

The reminder of how kids view their parents ... how much they long for their approval. 

The journey of a writer ... through all the misunderstandings of why you love what you love. 

The importance of honesty in relationships ... including and perhaps especially with our children. 

The reality of pain and suffering that should evoke compassion and mercy ... and even more ... action. 

The challenge to make right past wrongs. 

The courage and wonder of adopting a child who needs you. 

And the enduring honor of sacrificial love: "For you, a thousand times over." 

I don't want to give away the passionate plot of this book. And I have not seen the movie or read the graphic novel, so I cannot speak to those. But I would, with the above cautions and trusting you to discern for yourself, recommend this novel ... especially for those who are developing their craft of writing compelling fiction. 

Grace and peace,
with love,  


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