Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Destined To Be A Classic?

(I write a monthly book review for my local MOPS newsletter. The reviews are always written after our book group gathering.)

Destined to be a classic, these were my inner thoughts and hopes. They were slightly dashed after our last discussion of the Kite Runner...but not completely. (I felt a little alone in my admiration of the novel.)

Yes, the themes were gripping and real. The characters full and consistent. It all fit. The plot worked, but still some were disturbed by “that one scene.”

So, why did I like it? (I hated the scene,but loved the book. Is that possible?) Why have others liked it? Why has it been on the New York Times Bestseller List over and over again? I’ll explain why I think so.

The author, who I don’t believe is a Christ-follower, observes and records Truth....notice the capital T.

1. We are all evil and capable of evil....not just the Taliban. (It is easy to see and point the finger at those we see as ultimate evil. Harder to point it back at ourselves when in comparison we seem so "good.") The main character Amir commits the great evil of silence. He does nothing. And like any sin, it eats away at him. He wants to hide his “nakedness” and so he does with lies and deceit. Still the sin grows and grows and ruins him from the inside. All the natural consequences occur to Amir because he is someone acting in self-interest...relationships are broken.

2. He does not experience freedom from his act of silence until he confesses his story to his wife. He holds this guilt from when he was an early adolescent until he is a young man with a wife hoping to become a father. This is his first step toward forgiveness and reconciliation. Confession. Then he must take steps of faith, risk his life, and find the lost son of his boyhood friend...the friend whom he wronged. It is when he meets his life foe face-to-face (a local Afgan Taliban Leader) that he completes his quest for forgiveness. He receives the punishment that he knows he deserved and wanted. Aren’t we like this? I remember being a child and wanting my mom to discipline me so I could move on.

3. I know “that scene” is disturbing, but it is supposed to be and needs to be to move our story forward and for the plot to hold together. If it wasn’t as evil as it was then there would have been no probable storyline.

Those are my thoughts. I do think it is an excellent read, and I will continue recommending it. Here are general comments from the book group:

1. It gave us a new view of Afghanistan culture and countryside. Our images are mostly of dry, rocky dessert, but this story paints a picture of seasonal green and delicious pomegranate trees. There was a modern period when women wore western clothes and taught at the university....tasted freedom. War and absolute power changed all of that.

2. It made us appreciate the freedoms we experience as women in our own country.

3. We all agreed that the images of the kite fighting were vivid and will stay with us.

4. And we all loved the Hazara boy...what loyalty and sacrifice. Challenging and humbling.

5. We also agreed that our disturbance over children who have been wronged has greatly increased since having children of our own. Movies that we watched before motherhood, we can no longer stand.

Book group is fast becoming a place of safe sharing and for me a place of spiritual formation.

1 comment:

Paul Gramenz said...

You have to read "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by same author...even better. Loved the insight into the absolute must!--Jane