Worst Book in the World: The Kite Runner
Many people will be offended that The Kite Runner is our current Worst Book in the World. I mean, it’s a best seller, so how can it be the Worst Book in the World? Because it’s 97% tragedy. The other 3% is only there to keep you reading, hoping for something good to happen to balance out the horror. Here is the basic plot:
*SPOILERS: I’M TELLING YOU EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS, OK?*
Amir and Hassan grew up together as best friends, even though Hassan was the servant. Hassan is doggedly loyal to Amir, who gets him in trouble and torments him constantly. Hassan’s father, Ali, is a lifelong servant in their house and grew up almost as brothers with Amir’s father, just as Amir and Hassan were raised. Hassan is a different sect of Islam and a different ethnicity than the majority of Afghanistan (uh oh, this doesn’t bode well). Because of this, he’s treated as a second class citizen.
One day, a neighborhood bully corners Hassan in an alley and rapes him. Amir witnesses this, but is too much of a coward to do anything. Afterwards, he is so tormented with guilt at his inaction that he can’t stand to be around Hassan anymore. Poor Hassan has been traumatized, and now loses his best friend with no explanation. Amir asks his father to dismiss Ali and Hassan so he won’t have to face them anymore. Baba rightfully refuses and is outraged that his son would try to get rid of people who are basically family, with no cause. Amir then resorts to hiding money and a watch in Hassan’s bed, and then claims he stole them. Ever loyal, Hassan admits to stealing so that Amir won’t get in trouble. Baba forgives him, and asks them to stay, but Amir has finally driven Ali and Hassan to leave.
Years later, the Russians take over Afghanistan and Baba and Amir escape to America (there’s more suicide, attempted rape, and child rape along the way, but I’ll spare you the details). In the US, Amir meets a girl and they get married. You think things are looking up, right? Don’t get excited. Baba gets cancer and dies, and Amir and his wife can’t have kids. At this point Amir is so despicable, I’m glad he’s not reproducing.
A few more years later, one of Baba’s old friends (Famir, I think), calls Amir from Afghanistan. He’s dying also, and Amir needs to come witness it to drag the plot down further. Amir goes to see him and they start talking about Hassan. He had gotten married and had a son, and had been helping Famir take care of Baba’s old house. Six months before Amir’s visit, when Famir was out of town, the Taliban accused Hassan of stealing the nice house, dragged him into the street, and shot him dead. His wife flipped out (understandably) so the Taliban killed her also (I’m surprised the author didn’t take this opportunity to have graphic scenes of her being raped repeatedly, but she’s not a young boy, so I guess he wasn’t interested). Their son ends up in an orphanage, and Famir reveals that Hassan was actually Amir’s half brother all along!
Amir goes to the orphanage to track down Sohrab, who he now knows is his nephew. He finds the right orphanage, but it turns out Sohrab has been sold into sex slavery to none other than Assef, the bully who raped his father!
Amir finally does something brave and tries to fight Assef for Sohrab. A needlessly gruesome fight ensues. Amir and Sohrab get away, and Amir is in the hospital for awhile. Amir wants to adopt Sohrab, and promises he will bring him to the US, BEFORE investigating whether or not it’s possible. They run into a ton of red tape, and are told the best way to accomplish their goal is for Sohrab to go back to an orphanage. He flips out and cries himself to sleep.
Amir gets good news that some friends in the US can pull some strings to get Sohrab into the country without having to go back to an orphanage. Amir goes to tell Sohrab the good news, and finds him in the tub, having slit his wrists.
Sohrab survives, but is in the hospital for awhile. They get him to the US, but he’s so traumatized that he doesn’t speak for at least a year. At the very end of the book, Amir is flying a kite with Sohrab, and Sohrab MIGHT have smiled. THE END.
There, that’s the whole horrifically traumatic book. Now you know what happened without all the disgusting details (and there were a ton of them). After reading this book, my brain feels dirty. I will never understand why people feel the need to wallow in depressing stories like this. Real life is depressing enough; just watch the news. Books and movies should be an escape from reality. A certain amount of tragedy is fine, like Romeo and Juliet, but this books has more tragedy than Shakespeare could ever have imagined. It has almost no light moments to balance out the dark, and the few light moments in it are heavily shadowed. Khaled Hosseini is a talented writer, but he needs therapy.
I’m going to read some Calvin and Hobbes to clean my brain out.