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Whether it be under the rule of the King or republic before the soviet invasion or under the Taliban, Afghanistan is a culture that is ancient, and also shaped by Islam. While problems intensified after Islamic extremists took control of the country, there were deep-seated cultural divisions that were determined by the different ethnic groups (most prominently the Hazara and Pashtun).
Reconciliation and atonement seems central to the male friendships that are depicted in the book. After wronging a friend, a male can only evolve and grow up after he has atoned for his actions or the ghost of his past. This requires great sacrifice and risk. This reconciliation and process of atonement in the end offers peace, wholeness and joy. Baba and Amir spend periods in their adult life atoning for the wrongs they've committed toward a friend when they were younger. Real friendship must go through the fiery and painful purgation of atonement. After this a man finds a new joy and enriching peace in being alive.
This book is a beautifully written novel about two boys who grow up in the same household, share many experiences, but who are locked into their own social classes. They are friends and loyal to one another beyond the social status the other holds.
The book teaches us to rethink our preconceived notions of the Middle East, its culture, ideologies, and politics. It helps us to understand their place in the world and ours, and it does this all through the story of these two young boys from opposite sides of the track in Kabul.
The book helps us to see the abuse of power and politics, how one can be isolated within a community, how to find our own identity, how to see the father/son dynamic, and Amir's sense of freedom at having immigrated to California in spite of the feelings he has of abandoning his friend, Hassan.
The novel takes many complicated themes and ideas and neatly, beautifully, and poetically wraps them all up into one heart-breaking and enlightening story.
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