July – The Kite Runner

I didn’t choose this book, but I am very glad I read it, in spite of my initial reticence. The kite runner is not a book that I would have ever picked up, had it not been for our book club, and again, it made me grateful that all of these fabulous women chose to join the group.

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

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The first thing that struck me about this book was the beautiful descriptive quality of the writing. This was Hosseini’s first book and the first book that I have read by this author, however I am certain that it will not be the last. In my job as a college lecturer I have spent a lot of time with teenage asylum seekers from Afghanistan, and other war torn countries, and never really fully understood their journeys or their culture, I do feel that reading this book has taken me one step closer to that.

Amir tells the story of his privileged life in a pre war Afghanistan, the friendship that he has with his servant’s son, Hassan and the relationship that he longs to have with his father, Baba. Baba is very wealthy and therefore Amir’s upbringing is, we learn fairly early on in the story, not typical of the country at the time, however does have an honest feel about the life that Amir had, and the  lack of acceptance of his relationship with Hassan from his peers.

The ‘Kite running’ itself was a new concept to me, I have never heard of this, nor of covering the string of a kite with shards of broken glass, the thought of this tearing in to the young boys’ hands made me feel a little sick to be honest. I loved the imagery of all of the colourful kites darting around the sky at once, and imagined the clear blue sky filled with flashes of colour.

When the Taliban takes the country and thoughts turn to escape, it became more like what I know of Afghanistan, and the stories of life risking attempts to leave the country that they love is something with which I am very familiar. How hard those journey’s must be, and how strange to find yourself in a new country with a different climate, different culture, different language and a whole new way of life. The book deals with this well, and again I felt empathy for the main characters.

There is lots more to this book, relationships, deceit, danger…. but I will not spoil it, I loved the book and could not put it down, and highly recommend it, this seems to be how most of the group felt about it. the group gave the book an average 4.5*, with my rating being exactly that!

We have always lived in a castle – Shirley Jackson

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A strange wee book, easy to read and to understand, it might actually be a good one for young readers (12-15) to enjoy. The book opens with a teenage girl (Mary Katherine Blackwood) telling us that all of her family are dead, with the exception of her sister Constance and an uncle. It becomes evident quickly that Constance is suspected of the murder of the family by poisoning, and that the villagers do not trust her (even chanting a rhyme accusing her of the murder).

Mary Katherine aka Merricat exhibits very strange behaviour, stating in the opening passage that she would like to have been born a werewolf, she believes in magic, and is incredibly superstitious. Merricat mistrusts people, and avoids integration with anyone other than her sister, not surprising since the villagers are quite cruel to her on her trips to the shops.

It is a creepy little mystery, and it does keep the reader’s attention, however the plot twists did not surprise me and I really didn’t care enough about any of the characters to be glad that they survived the mass murder. The group gave this book a 4* rating, for me it was a 3.5*.

Happy Reading!
Mel

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