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Do you believe a person can really change? Have you ever felt that changing your attitude is like a mountain to climb? When someone asks me to name a book that has changed the way I live, I simply reply ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khalid Hosseini.

In this book, author Hosseini has proved that a person, who never really cared about the lives of others, transforms into a person who rescues his friend’s son from a sexual assault. Although this was Hosseini’s first novel, it was the number one New York Times best seller for over two years, with millions of copies sold in the US. The story is based on the lives of two young boys, from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, Afghanistan. Even though they live under the same roof, and have the same food, their lives were totally different. The protagonist of the story is one of the young boys, Amir and he narrates about the life of his closest friend, Hassan, who is the son of his father’s servant. They both spend their days kite fighting in the city of Kabul.

After winning the kite title in a tournament, Amir’s spinelessness reaches its peak when he refuses to help Hassan in his darkest hour. Amir later feels guilty and pity on his friend, but keeps quiet about the incident. Later, he is distant from the boy and finally, Hassan and his father leave the house. But just like kites battling in the sky, war comes to Afghanistan and it becomes an extremely dangerous place, having Amir and his father escape to Peshawar, Pakistan, and then to California.

There, Amir meets fellow refugee Soraya Taheri and gets married. Years later, Amir receives a call from one of the agents in Pakistan, asking him to come to Peshawar. This is the part that I liked the best, a turning point in Amir’s life where he decides to change himself and set things straight for all that he had done.

Good overcoming evil, he goes to Peshawar and finds out that Hassan, along with his wife and father were all killed in various incidents. But Hassan’s son, Sohrab was still situated in an orphanage in Kabul. Finally Amir rescues Sohrab and they fly to America and Sohrab is then adopted by Amir.

The story focuses on a series of events such as the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the Soviet military intervention, the evacuation of refugees to Pakistan and the US, and the rise of the Taliban regime. It had me touched, thrilled and moved altogether.

It is fast-paced and hardly ever dull, and introduces me to a world of Afghan life, which is strange, fascinating, and yet oddly familiar, all at the same time.

I recommend it for everyone who likes a good read, regardless of age, gender, or nationality. It delivers a universal message that will move even the coldest heart. This is a vivid book – other novels pale in comparison, one that one puts down with a sigh and wishes were longer.

Hosseini’s protagonist may be cowardly, but the novel itself is full of courage. The moment I completed the story and put down my book, I began to think about life and its enemies, and how we can overcome those enemies. And now it has terribly changed the way I look at life.

The story is beautifully written and author Hosseini finds a great balance between being clear, yet very strong and powerful. Published in 2003, it offers a sense of hope for both the future of its characters, and perhaps for war-torn Afghanistan as well.

— The reader is a student based in Dubai.