“The Kite Runner”, by Khaled Hosseini

“The Kite Runner”, by Khaled Hosseini

‘The Kite Runner’ is most definitely the most powerful and profound novel I have ever come across, and that’s saying something as a literature graduate! I cried and cried and cried when I finished the book, much to my mother’s bemusement (so much so that she inevitably felt compelled to read the book herself.) This post will detail a lot of spoilers so please do not read ahead until you’ve finished the novel.

The character of Hassan is incredibly moving and my favourite element of the book – every essence of his being touches you. From the beauty of his innocence until the ill-fated event with Assef, to his unwavering loyalty towards Amir right through to the bitter end, the reader is inexplicably drawn to Hassan’s nature as a friend and as a boy. His character encompasses every trait we wish to possess as humans, and the tragedy of his demise is something which haunts me even after finishing the novel. We mourn not only the loss of his bright personality after victimisation by Assef, but the loss of a friendship, a brotherhood between Amir and Hassan as Amir realises he cannot live with the guilt of what he condemned his beloved childhood friend to. The beauty of it is captivating – Hassan continued to protect Amir as a brother and a friend until the end. We, as the reader, grow irrationally angry with Amir for betraying Hassan and Ali as they are inevitably forced by pride to leave Baba’s household. We shed tears as we learn of Hassan’s life and what it came to when Amir returns to Kabul. But most powerfully, we as the reader just as Amir, see the shadow of Hassan living within his son, Sohrab and that gives both us, and Amir, a shred of comfort during this journey.

After I finished the novel, I found myself analysing the incredibly clever and moving elements of the novel that make it a bestseller. As a reader, I naively accepted the friendship between Hassan and Amir to be that of beloved childhood friends, despite them sharing a brotherly love for one another. The affection Baba showed Hassan was something I mistook as a loving respect because of the relationship he had with Ali. How Hassan protected Amir and refused to blame him even after he was attacked by Assef. I marvelled at the implicit nod towards Hassan’s cleft lip scar as Amir is beaten by Amir to near death and is left with a similar scar on his lip, almost identical to Hassan’s. The shocking reappearance of Assef as a highly esteemed member of the Taliban later in the novel – which made absolute sense when thinking back to his inhumane nature and sadistic desire to torture for fun. The fact that Amir was never able to produce children but Hassan gave birth to a son, and the irony of that parallel serving as a metaphor in itself for the karma surrounding Amir’s actions as a young boy. And finally, the most moving scene of the book, the ending. How it so cleverly mirrors some of the happiest moments Amir spent with Hassan during their younger years, almost as if Hassan never left Amir’s life. I still have a lump in my throat as I think back to it.

There was one scene which affected me the most as a reader – the rape of Hassan. The fact that sexual violence was seen as a punishment by bullies is something which shocked me to the core. But the way Hassan is depicted to have handled it, resigned as he was, is truly disturbing. A boy who’s purity remained untouched by the harsh reality of the outside world until the sexual attack, and subsequently was now scarred and tainted for life for his being at the wrong place and the wrong time, ultimately for Amir’s sake. The fact that he never changed his attitude towards Amir, never resented him, makes him the most poignant character in the novel. His loving nature shines through until the end, through the mockery and the violence he was subjected to as a Hazara. I grew increasingly frustrated and pained at Amir’s expression of guilt through his acts of aggression, indifference and eventual coldness towards Hassan. As a reader, we become protective of such explicit and unwavering vulnerability.

I desperately wished for Amir to fight against the impossibility of adopting Sohrab towards the end of the novel, in the hopes of giving Hassan’s son the happy ending his family always deserved. Sohrab’s attempted suicide acts as a testament to the trauma he went through at the hands of the Taliban, grossly overlooked and undermined in today’s society. The fact that he, just as his father did earlier in the novel, did not speak for a year portrays the extremity of the trauma they were both subjugated to at the hands of oppressors seeking to control.

The novel’s ending is a bitter-sweet relief to readers. It allows us the hint of a possibility that Hassan’s son will live a better, safer, happier life than Hassan did, despite not being able to escape the tortures of living in Kabul under an oppressive, violent Taliban regime. It seems right that the novel ended the way it did, although that does not detract from how heartbreaking and moving this novel is. So many of my friends told me this book will change my life forever and they were absolutely correct. It will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I hope in some way I can incorporate at least a few of Hassan’s invaluable traits as a human being into my way of life.

W.P Young’s “The Shack”

W.P Young’s “The Shack”

Recently, I decided to make the monumental decision of temporarily stepping away from crime thrillers and venture towards other genres. More specifically, I was attracted to the reviews of Young’s Shack, of which are considerably mixed.

Without giving too much away, the novel surrounds a man whose life is turned upside down when he experiences a family tragedy. The tragedy is of such a horrifying extent, he begins to question how God can live in a world where evil like this exists. His story and his journey address fundamental issues raised by agnostics and atheists on a daily basis, amidst wars in poverty-stricken countries and humanitarian crisis. Justifiably so, the protagonist loses faith in God, and whilst at this lowest point, he encounters an experience which somehow miraculously changes every single perception he had, of religion and of mankind.

My initial thoughts were of a sceptical nature when first reading this novel; firstly, I’m not a Christian and thus, could not take this at face value. However, there were considerable lessons to be learnt by reading this story; even if one isn’t religious, or practising, it certainly speaks to you on a spiritual level. It’s almost as if the author can sense the scepticism the reader feels prior to opening the book, and works with it to create a sensational masterpiece.

Like many other novels with underlying morals that shape the story, it left me questioning a few of my own spiritual beliefs. Religiously speaking, I know where and with Whom my faith lies, but I understand those who discredit any existence of a deity when wars, murder, rape and other evils are present in society everyday. This book addresses this internal strife. It speaks to the believer and the non-believer, without simultaneously shoving the reader’s own religious/spiritual stance down the reader’s throat.

I cannot recommend this book enough; it certainly makes you reevaluate how you look at the world, and the importance of being the best person you can possibly be in this lifetime.

A x

Featured Image: http://wmpaulyoung.com

‘If I Stay’ – Cinematic Adaptation Review

“Sometimes, you make choices in life.
And sometimes, choices make you.”

After watching Forman’s novel come to life, I was overcome by both extreme sadness that the film was over, and complete ecstasy that the film was exactly how I envisioned it to be.

Mia, a girl with her whole life ahead of her, suddenly finds herself in a coma after a fatal car accident which took the lives of her parents and younger brother, Teddy. The novel, and the film, takes us through a series of flashbacks into Mia’s life and memorable moments which predominately surround her love interest, Adam. The reader is left right up until the end of the story to find out whether or not Mia survives the crash, and the journey from start to end is both tragically endearing and overwhelmingly exhilarating with a few life lessons along the way.

The character of Adam is strangely and seductively compelling, played exquisitely by Jamie Blackley, and represents the conflicts of love and morality thrown into question when someone we love is almost lost to us. I fell in love with his character from the moment Forman introduced us to him; a leather jacket-wearing rockstar who wears his heart on his sleeve and falls for the girl who remained invisible to all but him. Boys wanted to be him. Girls wanted to be on him. Right up until the very end of the story, Adam, and Blackley, did not disappoint.

Chloë Grace Moretz was brilliantly casted to play Mia Hall. She conveyed every emotion I felt whilst reading the novel, and I don’t think anyone else could have captured the essence of Mia Hall the way Moretz did.

I find that the music complimented the film perfectly, too. Very well chosen in accordance with the novel.

I cannot express how amazing it feels to read a book, fall in love with it, then see it on a screen exactly the way you imagined it would be.

So thank you, Gayle Forman, for manipulating me into thinking that true love exists in the form of a rocker, and to the cast of If I Stay, for bringing my imagination to life.