Rare is a book that can grab you round the throat within its opening page. Rarer, is a book that manages to suck the heat out of a baking Mallorcan summer with just one sentence. Rarer still, is a book that still captivates and haunts you in equal measures, four years on from that initial midsummer morning. Perhaps, rarest of all, however, is that one book could manage to do all of the above, despite it being in my lap as a consequence of requirement rather than choice.
Khaled Hosseini's 'The Kite Runner' is 'that book'. The book that delivers the tale of a most unlikely but simple friendship that dissintergrates into a heartwrenching tale of loss, jelousy, betrayal and horror set against the backdrop of a land where such things are tragically commonplace.
The novel follows the wealthy Amir, who, on the surface appears to have it all ; a large house, stable and prosperous education, security and the promise of an actual future. But actually, beneath the privellidged exterior feels fundamentally insecure, and, most importantly - unloved and lost under a cloud of sky-high expectations. And his friendship with whom, in a land of criticism and conflict can only be described as his polar oposoite - Hassan, a servant boy who by his none rights should have nothing. However, fighting against expectation however, Hassan is blessed with loyalty and courage that Amir could never dream of, and on a personal level, the ability to reduce me to floods of tears with one simple line 'For you a thousand times over."
Hassan, his loyalty, love and line form the pivotal moment of The Kite runner, a moment harrowingly shocking yet beautifully done at the same time, a moment that you can sense coming with sickening sureness from the very opening sentence - but are powerless to stop. In a way, you're bound as soon as you open this book - bound to follow the tale like the tail of the kites that lend the book it's title.
Guilt is a powerful feeling. It can leave pleasure pleasureless and suck the soul out of all enjoyment. Out of living. Amir knows this. And through Amir we know this, and we feel it ourselves through his words. The book cryptically opens with the promise that 'There is a way to be good again'. And my god. Inshallah. Before we even know what happens here don't we all want to beleive that?
Never, when I picked up that book, on that beach, a mere requirement of my approaching A-level studies, did I realise what an impact it would leave. It seems only fitting that it should be the first book I review here as I often wonder how many books will even come close.
What book is your favourite? Can you choose, or is that like picking between children?