For you, a thousand times over

"Children aren't coloring books. You don't get to fill them with your favorite colors"
I've read so many good books this year. So so many and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is another. It's just....beautiful. It's graphic and it's heartbreaking and it's tragic but it's also beautiful and poignant and hopeful. I am so mad at myself for waiting so long to read this.

"she had a voice that made me think of warm milk and honey"
I was speechless when I finished reading this book. I laid my Kindle beside me on the bed and just sort of stared for a while. It was one of those books that just left me not quite knowing how I felt. I'd read it slowly because I didn't want to finish it; I didn't want to leave Amir and Hassan and Baba and that world behind. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know everything.I've read a lot of books this year that have broken me a little bit; it's not been a year for light relief and The Kite Runner is no different. It made me so so sad; it left me several times with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye and there were several occasions where I had to take a deep breath and bite my lip just to be able to keep on reading. I guess any story told against the backdrop of pre-war and post-Taliban occupation Afghanistan was always going to have that effect; was always going to be haunting.
"...and I would walk by, pretending not to know her, but dying to."
All I knew of Afghanistan before I read Hosseini's work (both this and A Thousand Splendid Suns) was what I read and seen in the news and whilst I'm not going to profess to be any kind of expert now, I certainly feel like I've had my eyes opened. I mean, I'm not an idiot. I read the news, I know things aren't good over there and I know they've not been good for a long time and I know that ultimately this is a work of fiction but it's rooted in truth and reading books like this make things hit home perhaps not harder but differently to reading news reports and you become aware of things that you might otherwise not have even considered.
"It turned out that, like satan, cancer had many names."

It is, at times a brutal book and every single time a passage was hard to read I felt guilty because however hard it was for me to read I couldn't help think, for example, about the people who actually lived under Taliban rule, people for whom this wasn't fiction but reality.But please, if you haven't read this book, don't let the fact that it will without a doubt make you sad put you off, please, because this book is so much more than a tear-jerker; ultimately it's a story of redemption and the emotions and relationships Hosseini created were rich and honest. It's a fantastic read.

"The first time I saw the Pacific, I almost cried."
Hosseini's chracterisation is incredible. Take Amir. As a person he's not always particularly likeable, at times he's the opposite. If someone was to tell you about a snobbish little boy who likes to play with a little servant boy but only if nobody is around; who he never calls his friend, who he'll tease and ridicule for his own amusement and who he won't stand up and protect from a vicious attack, you'd think he sounded like an awful spoilt brat and I suppose to a certain extent he is but in a literary sense he's a really great character. Amir is so so well written, so well written and is so well developed, so deep that you can see past his cruelty to Hassan, you really get to know this troubled vulnerable little boy so desperate for the affection of his father and whilst you can't condone the things he does you can't help but sympathise with him, care for him and ulitmately be proud of him.

"Proud. His eyes gleamed when he said that and I liked being on the receiving end of that look."
There were so many things to love about this book, so very many. As we follow Amir from the 70's to a year or so after 9/11 The Kite Runner never loses pace, or vision. We learn about Afghanistan in the 70's, the lives the people lived before the arrival of the Russians and with hindsight we are are flabbergasted by the initial reactions to the arrival of the Taliban - how they were welcomed at first, how they drove the Russians out and many Afghans were grateful thinking this would be the start of a new dawn for their country; the beginning of a better time. From there the descriptions of Afghani life, of the Taliban, of the atrocities commited are nothing less than frightening, and extremely hard to read but still the book never loses hope, you as the reader are never allowed to lose hope. As for the ending, I don't think I've ever wanted to hug a child so much in my entire life.

"America was a river, roaring along unmindful of the past. I could wade into this river, let my sins drown to the bottom, let the waters carry me someplace far. Someplace with no ghosts, no memories, and no sins. If for nothing else, for that I embraced America."

Whilst Hosseini doesn't shy away from the fanatical side of Afghanistan he also paints a beautiful human picture of the other side. The Kabul he draws with it's pomegrante trees and markets and kabobs and kite-running competitions is of a tightly knit community that anybody would love to be, would be proud to be a part of. The community spirit of these people in Afghanistan, then in Pakistan and later in America is heart-warming, it makes you believe and whilst this is a sad story, sad because of what was lost in it's pages and what it reminds us has been and still is endured it's also a wonderful one. The characters and the world they live in are warm and colourful, the message of determination and hope and redemption is inspring and I know it will stay with me for a long long time.

"He walked like he was afraid to leave behind footprints. He moved as if not to stir the air around him."

On a lighter note, you know what I realised reading this book? That Ian could never be an Afghan for no other reason than that they share the endings of films. Anyone who has witnessed my boyfriend covering his ears with a "don't tell me ANYTHING" would know that if he lived in a culture where the question asked of somebody returning from the cinema was "how does it end" well, it just wouldn't be pretty. Ha.

"...and when she locked her arms around my neck, when I smelled apples in her hair, I realized how much I had missed her. 'You're still the morning sun to me...' I whispered."