When this book was made such a fuss of a few years back I didn't understand it. Not once did it appeal to me. I actually didn't know much about it other than it was supposed to be a moving story of a boy from Afghanistan. To be honest at that time I was devouring light reads and YA novels in particular. Even now when my BF said I should read this I just nodded and moved on to talk about other things. A year or so of nagging and I finally agreed to borrow the book. It still took a few months to pick it up. Especially after she raved about A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and I honestly can't see her obsession over that book.
The reason I mention this is that I had no actual idea of what the story was really about and when I picked it up I was expecting to dislike it. A few pages in and I was addicted. In fact I think I would have read it in a day had I the opportunity to. I was immediately drawn to the friendship between Amir and Hassan. Particularly because of Hassan's unending loyalty to Amir who quite frankly didn't deserve it. From very early on you are aware that Amir does something to finally betray that friendship. I dreaded that moment. I wanted Hassan's innocence and brotherly love for Amir to remain untarnished. I basically wanted nothing bad to happen to this good natured character. Of course it wouldn't have been much of a book if I had my way.
That's not to say that Amir was an unlikeable character. He himself knew his own faults and narrated his regrets which centred around Hassan. It was difficult not to sympathise with his situation. In the end all he really wanted was for his father who didn't understand him to respect and love him. It took Amir giving up on that dream and losing everything for it to happen. Which is sad in itself.
I have read some mixed reviews on this book. It seems to range from one star to five star ratings with very few in the middle. Those who hate it criticise it for it's portrayal of Afghanistan and it's one sided view of some of the people. Maybe they have a point but that wasn't what the book was about. It was about friendship. It was about a man redeeming himself by standing up to that bully he was to scared to face as a child. The rest is just setting. At least it was for me anyway. Plus I am sure, since the author did spend some of his childhood there, that the customs were accurate and those alone were interesting.
I'm glad my friend persevered in nagging me to read it. I would have missed out on a fantastic book if she hadn't. I can't wait to hand the book over and tell her how much I loved it. I expect surprise as she has assumed that since I didn't like A Fine Balance that I probably wouldn't like this one. It surprised me too. I love it when that happens.