I like going into books rather blindly without knowing much about its synopsis.
So much so, I downloaded this book about a year ago by a mere glance at Goodreads recommendation and the good reviews this book had gleaned.
I think it did me good because I might not have got this book had I known the synopsis – this is not a kind of book I would normally go to – and I am glad I read this.
I think I can say this book is divided into 3 parts; Part 1 where the relationship between the protagonist, an Afghan boy Amir and Hassan, a son of his father’s servernt, is described; Part 2 which describes the lives of Amir and his father after they fled his homeland Afghanistan and immigrated to the United States and Part 3 – the most crucial part of this story which describes how Amir and Hassan’s paths come together.
Personally speaking, I think this is a poignant yet beautiful story of loyalty and redemption; the transition and change that Amir goes through in Part 3 are so relatable and amazingly well-narrated.
Actually, ever since I finished this book yesterday, I have been thinking how to pigeonhole this book. While I was reading the last 10% of this book on my kindle in the orthopedic waiting room, I got asked what I was reading by an old man sitting right beside me.
He glanced at my kindle screen and said, “Oh, you’re reading an English book, aren’t you? What is the book about, may I ask?”
I opened my mouth but the words stopped halfway; I couldn’t think up anything to describe what this book is about. I found it really hard to compress this story down to a mere few sentences because it’s got a lot of elements jam-packed in it.
The writing is really powerful and explicit; I sometimes found it rather biting and chilling,in particular, the scenes with their archenemy, Assef. They are narrated with amazing intensity and they actually made my heart jackhammering against my rib cage.
I also felt the writing quite raw; Amir’s self-questioning about what Hassan means to him (whether he sees Hassan as a ‘friend’ or not) and his self-disgust for what he has done to Hassan are so eloquently narrated. It was really emotionally evocative.
Story-wise, the latter part of Part 1 is kind of hard for me to read on; not only is what happens to Hassan just unsettling and disgusting but I was so frustrated by Amir not standing against Assef for Hassan’s sake once and for all. Reading how their bond starts to crumble after the incident was just heart-wrenching.
Then the story a bit slowed in Part 2 but I found it quite natural because it just describes what the life is like after Amir and his father moved to the United States. It felt a bit slow, yet it was entertaining enough to keep me reading.
And then Part 3; as I previously mentioned, the emotional transition that Amir goes through here is purgatorial. It does involve some sad and poignant revelations, but I think that’s exactly what makes this story engaging.
Amir has always felt somewhat a sense of inferiority complex toward himself for not living up to his father’s high standard and being a coward. He has also tormented himself for what he did in the winter of 1975, but one surprising revelation gives him a chance ‘to be good once again.’
Amir is a bit skeptic and baffled in the beginning, but he then decides to follow his heart and that lands him to the road to redemption, and I found it so beautiful and therapeutic.
The ending is also utterly amazing. the phrase,
“For you, a thousand times over”
is used in an amazingly effective way and that brought tears to my eyes. For those who have read this book may be able to guess what I am talking about; with this sentence, a lot of scenes with Amir and Hassan flashed back to me like a gush of water coming out of a dam or something.
Then, the very last two words, “I ran.”
these two words, TWO WORDS made the entire book for me.
I just can’t come up with any fitting ending better than this. Simply stunning.
I highly recommend this book without any presumption nor prejudice.
Just go into it blindly – I’ll bet you’ll find yourself relishing the story.