I don't know how many times, as I was reading, I turned to the front to make sure this was not the memoirs of Khaled Hossieni. It is fiction, the author's first novel. But I was convinced it was his life.
Amir was a difficult character to admire. There were so many examples in his life of men who were strong, admirable, heroic. Time and again Amir would choose the easy road and let Hassan pick up the pieces and literally take the punches for him. This was odd to me because Amir was so honest about his cowardice. He knew himself so well and didn't shy from acknowledging that he was yellow and somehow, prophetically knew this would haunt him all his life.
At the same time that Amir's lack of backbone frustrated me, I felt he was the more realistic of characters. I would like to think all men would choose to stand up against a drunken Soviet soldier to defend a married woman and protect her. But I don't know, in reality, if most would. Perhaps Amir is more like most men and Baba and Hassan are the exceptions.
There is so much culturally I will never understand about Hassan and Amir's relationship-best friends but the mark on Hassan, being Hazara, ever taints that relationship. So much is revealed in the end - when Amir returns to see Rahim - the truth about their familial relationship. I wonder if they had known the truth as youngsters how their interaction would have changed? Culturally would it have? Were they so bound by the unspoken laws around them that the secret didn't matter?
I admired Baba. Although I think if I knew him personally, in real-life, I wouldn't not of spoken highly of him but rather spoken about him behind his back. He reminded me a lot of my father-the assuredness of opinion, the black and whiteness of life, the air of disappointment, the cynicism and the audacity to do the right thing regardless of what others thought. Even after Rahim reveals the truth behind Baba and Hassan, I loved him even more.
Okay, back to Harry Potter - how many (who have read HP and KR) thought of Draco Malfoy when Assef was in the picture?
There is so much to discuss here about Afghanistan, the Taliban, fundamentalist Islam, American culture, international adoption, forgiveness, reconciliation...I'll let you do that and tell me your opinions in the comment section. let's have a running dialogue today. Shall we?
To end with my favorite quotes:
pp.18-19 when Baba is explaining to Amir what sin is... "If there is a God out there, then I would hope he has more important things to attend to than my drinking scotch or eating pork."
There is only one sin. And that is theft...When you tell a lie, you steal some one's right to the truth p.225
A part of me was hoping someone would wake up and hear, so I wouldn't have to live with this lie anymore. But no one woke up and in the silence that followed, I understood the nature of my new curse: I was going to get away with it. p.86I liked these two quotes because they show the intense need we have for reconciliation, repentance and penance.
"Hit me back! I spat. "Hit me back, goddamn you!" I wished he would. I wished he'd give me the punishment I craved, so maybe I'd finally sleep at night. Maybe then things could return to how they used to be between us. p. 92
The tender relationship between Amir and Baba during Baba's last days was very moving. I think Amir's respect and admiration grew expotentially during Baba's illness and after his death.
Listening to them [the mourners at Baba's funeral, paying their respects], I realized how much of who I was, what I was, had been defined by Baba and the marks he had left on people's lives. My whole life, I had been "Baba's son." Now he was gone. Baba couldn't show me the way anymore; I'd have to find it on my own. p.174I could go on and on - Hassan's letter to Amir (p216), how the talib (teenagers) were treating their elders (p199), Rahim's account of life in Kabul after Baba and Amir left, rahim's letter (p300), Amir telling his wife everything (p 325), and finally Sohrab in the hospital after his suicide attempt ("What Sohrab?" He winced when he spoke again in that husky voice, barely above a whisper, "Tired of everything.")
Sohrab's story broke my heart and I know it's probably not a fictional story for many children. To go through so much in a brief time, during one's childhood, the most tender years. Years that should be spent in laughter and games and play and mischief. All of that robbed. Like Baba said, the only sin is theft. Certainly Sohrab was robbed of innocence.
To conclude: I am hoping that one of you has a book that you would love others to read and discuss. If so, leave that in the comments. If you would like to host the bookbloggingclub on your blog next month (on the 25th), leave that in the comments too! If you don't have a blog but have a book interest, leave that too!
Thanks for joining me, now join in the discussion....