The Kite Runner
This book unravels an emotional story between childhood best friends who would do anything for each other “a thousand times over”
Netanya Castillo, Video Editor
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, was published in 2003 and grew in popularity for its detailed depiction of pre-war Afghanistan. Hosseini, an Afghan native, based the novel on his childhood recollections and wrote the plot around true historical events.
Rather than a feel-good story, The Kite Runner realistically illustrates the human condition. The award-winning bestseller allows readers to confront their internal biases and begrudgingly cheer for a very flawed protagonist.
The novel demonstrates themes of guilt and redemption, sin and righteousness, and repeated history, all while connecting the dots to one hurtful betrayal.
Throughout the years, The Kite Runner has been banned and protested as educational material because of its honest depiction of religion, vulgarity, and sexual violence.
The novel is titled after an Afghan tradition where young children have a kite-cutting competition in the winter. The winner of the tournament is the last kite standing after all other kites have been cut down by glass-infused kite strings.
The main protagonist, Amir, wins the 1975 Kabul tournament alongside his best friend, a fellow 12-year-old named Hassan. Hassan, a kite runner, runs to retrieve Amir’s trophy kite. Meanwhile, Amir celebrates his victory in hopes of Baba, his father, seeing him as a masculine son.
Up until this point, Baba has shown favouritism towards Hassan despite the lack of a blood connection. Hassan is athletic and courageous, whereas Amir is timid and wants to become a writer. Because of Baba’s manly reputation, Amir constantly tries to live up to his father’s expectations.
Hassan was born with a cleft lip and is the son of Ali, who is Amir’s father’s live-in servant.
Despite Hassan and Amir becoming close over the years, they never acknowledge their relationship as an official friendship because Hassan is part of an ethnic minority during a time of radical racism.
Flashforward to the kite runner, Assef and the town bullies corner Hassan in the alley where the trophy kite fell. Assef tells Hassan to give him the trophy kite, but Hassan knows how much it means to Amir and refuses. Amir catches up to Hassan just in time to witness a heinous crime.
Plagued by guilt and disgusted by Hassan’s loyalty, Amir plots to have Ali and Hassan removed as servants. The servants leave Baba and Amir after Amir frames Hassan for theft.
A few years later, the King of Afghanistan is overthrown in 1979, throwing the country into civil unrest between the Soviet Union and the Taliban. Baba and Amir are smuggled to San Francisco, America and live humble lives. Rahim Khan, a close friend of Baba, remains in Afghanistan to look after Baba’s property.
Years later, Amir is married in San Francisco and becomes a published author. The couple cannot have children. Rahim Khan, Baba’s friend, calls Amir from Afghanistan to tell him to return home because “there is a way for him to be good again.”
Amir follows a redemption arc as he confronts the skeletons of his past on a dangerous mission to find a child in Taliban-torn Afghanistan. Unrighteous pasts and sinful deeds are unburied as Amir pieces together the legacy of Ali, Hassan and Baba.
The Kite Runner is an exhilarating page-turner filled with mysteries, and as a summer read, it will not disappoint.
Tuesdays With Morrie
Maybe we could all do with some Morrie-style wisdom in our lives during this pandemic
Ending the spring semester and finishing my final exams was an incredibly taxing time that took away a lot of my energy. The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t make it any easier, either. It was not like I had a scheduled summer island trip to look forward to. I had not been waiting to pack my bag.
We can’t do any of that.
I remember back in April, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that it was up to all of us to do our part during a COVID-19 briefing. The instructions were to stay close to home.
Even now, non-essential travel is still being discouraged. So, what could be better than travelling the world and experiencing new things through the world of books? Reading can also do wonders for learning from inspiring perspectives.
With that in mind, my recommendation for a book to read this summer would be Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. For me, it was a life-changing read.
Albom’s memoir is about reconnecting with his old college professor, Morrie Schwartz, during the last few months of the older man’s life. Every Tuesday, Albom becomes Morrie’s student again, this time learning about how to live life.
There is so much going on around us, so many announcements on the state of the pandemic. Hearing the counts of cases and deaths is overwhelming, as there are new cases every day. Perhaps, we all need a Morrie in our lives to help us navigate through life’s lows and highs, particularly during the pandemic.
During Albom’s weekly Tuesday meetings with Morrie, who is terminally ill with a nervous system disease, their conversations cover all topics of human life, including sensitive ones like death.
With all the uncertainties like Moorie’s illness that we are all facing right now, this book has inspired me to live life to the fullest and to celebrate the smaller milestones along the way.
After I finished reading the book, it felt like I had personally lost somebody. However, it was not the kind of grief that took away from me being able to enjoy life’s moments, but a grief that changed my mindset on life, and encouraged me to make new memories and to be brave and strong.
The Nectar of Pain
Poetry and prose about love, loss, and forgiveness
Eseosa Eweka-Valentine, Contributor
The Nectar of Pain by Najwa Zebian is not only for those who have been heartbroken over a failed romantic relationship. The book addresses all causes, kinds, and types of pain.
Most importantly, it preaches kindness and forgiveness towards those who have hurt you, not because they deserve it, but because of how excellent of a person you are.
The Nectar of Pain, as the name connotes, refers to the sweetness derived from pain.
Based on the book’s title, my first thought questioned how one could derive sweetness from pain. What message was the author passing across to her readers?
I thought it may have been one of those books that just talks about the same thing over and over again. However, my perspective changed when I read some of the excerpts, and it became a must-buy on my list of books.
The Nectar of Pain is a collection of poetry and prose, which I only realized upon reading the first page. I guess I was in such a hurry to purchase it that I didn’t perform in-depth research on what the book was about.
The goal of this book is to bring healing to the broken-hearted, the silent, and the oppressed. It also emphasizes that revenge is not an option when it comes to getting back at those who have cut you deeply or stabbed you in the back.
Being unforgiving shouldn’t be an option to explore, although you may crave it.
Najwa Zebian arrived in Canada from Lebanon at sixteen years old. She is an activist, author, and educator.
I love the simplicity of language she uses, which makes the book clear, convincing, and easy to understand. Her fluidity and clarity should be applauded. I found her book through her Instagram page when it popped up on my explore page. After reading a few quotes from the book, I was instantly drawn in by the combination of emotions that it invoked in me.
The meaning behind the quotes was powerful and thought-evoking. Without much contemplation, I decided to purchase the book through Amazon.
Some of my favourite lines from the book are, “Let your soul discover the power it has to build a masterpiece. That masterpiece is you.”
“Don’t wait for an apology, or an acknowledgment of your pain. Feel it. Let it leave you. And move on.”
“Let your soul flow through these words, as you turn your pain into nectar. Never allow someone’s sting to make you bitter. Keep your kindness kind. Keep your love loving.”
I would absolutely recommend this book, and I believe every person should read this book as it gives you a different perspective on life. I found healing in this book.
The poems made me feel powerful but vulnerable all at the same time. I shed a tear or two recognizing how relatable these poems were to my own experiences.
The Percy Jackson and The Olympians series
The pandemic may stop our real-life plans, but we can still turn things around with the magic of fiction
Aubrey Clarito, Contributor
With summer just around the corner, people are thinking about ways to enjoy the sunlight and warm breeze.
Summer is usually the time for those weekend getaways, barbeques and swimming parties, and out-of-town adventures with friends and relatives.
However, we have a whole pandemic going on, and plans are being cancelled as part of the plans to keep everyone safe. Missing these thrilling adventures and precious moments can be melancholic and disheartening, but who says you can not explore a new world from the comfort of your own home?
That was exactly what I felt when I read my all-time favourite novels from the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series by Rick Riordan.
The first book of the series, called The Lightning Thief, is based on Greek mythology.
The story is narrated by the main character, Percy Jackson, who recently found out about his familial connection to Poseidon, the god of the sea.
When the other gods find out about Percy’s existence, proof of Poseidon breaking his oath to not have children, and about Zeus’s lightning bolt being coincidently and mysteriously stolen, they threaten to wage an all-out war that could ultimately destroy the world.
Together, Percy is chosen to finish the quest before the summer solstice with a satyr and another demigod. Little does the group know. They will face many challenges to prove his innocence.
When people ask me for recommendations, this book is always at the top of my list.
Aside from the ideal dream of surrounding yourself with vibrant trees, clear bodies of water, and an all-you-can-eat buffet in every meal, this book lets you fight monsters alongside the characters and personally feel their inner struggles and emotions throughout the story.
Reading this book makes you feel bonded to the characters, and because of Riordan’s unique writing and storytelling style, their world feels real.
The unpredictable plot throughout the chapters speaks volumes and brings awareness to children with dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder like 12-year-old Percy has, which are often misunderstood by society.
Since 2011, I have held this book close to my heart as it sparked my love for reading novels.
Through these books, I have lived a thousand different lives. During times that I faced personal doubts and insecurities, being able to connect with these characters and their sense of belonging was my refuge.
It made me realize that our differences should not be seen as disadvantages but instead powerful tools to conquer the world.
I highly recommend this book because it changed my entire life for the better, and I hope it can do the same for other people.
The whole series is worth the read, and the journey starts with The Lightning Thief.
Reading a book is like being transported through a portal to a new world full of endless possibilities. You can choose from dozens of books containing powerful stories, whether they are fiction or nonfiction.
I have been a fan of fiction books for as long as I can remember.
Every word is captivating, letting you dive into the story like you are experiencing it yourself. The magic of a unique and unusual world takes your mind off the loop of reality, and, sometimes, you discover a new home.