Banned Books #37 The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

banned books

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month, Beth and I read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

The Kite Runner

First published: 2003
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2008 (source)
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.


Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: This book was first published in 2003, which is fourteen years ago (I can hardly believe it!) but in the grand scheme of things I don’t think attitudes have changed that much in that time. I am however interested as to why it took five years to appear on the banned books list (2008) if it was published five years earlier and some people obviously had a problem with it. Hmm…interesting. If anyone has any ideas I’d be intrigued to know! So let’s start to talk about some of the reasons why it has been challenged/banned. Firstly, offensive language. Well, I’m not too easily offended but I can’t really remember any instance of foul language in this novel – if there was, I have clearly forgotten. It certainly wasn’t over-run with expletives in any way, shape or form, I would have remembered that!

CHRISSI: Like Beth, I can’t believe this book was published almost fifteen years ago. I don’t really understand why it was banned several years after it was published. That’s a bit odd to me. To be honest, when we were thinking of the books for the challenge this year, I wanted to read this one to work out why it made the banned/challenged list. I’m still a bit stumped. The language wasn’t that offensive. I guess the sexual content could be a bit much for some, but I don’t think this book is necessarily aimed at younger readers.

How about now?

BETH: In my opinion, there is no reason on earth why this book should be challenged or banned in 2017. When I read our banned books, I tend not to look at the reasons they were banned until I come to write these answers, I like to try and figure it out myself while I’m reading the story. When I was reading it, I was struggling to be honest and the only thing I could come up with was the ONE sexual scene which is not overly graphic (but is still quite horrific, I have to admit) and then I thought, perhaps there was a bit of a problem with the religious aspects? This isn’t my view, I hasten to add. Reading the last reason though has me completely stumped. Unsuited for age group?? I’ve been struggling with trying to research this on the web but I don’t think this book is actually aimed at younger readers anyway. The violence and sex scene may be inappropriate for youngsters but I think older teenagers would get a lot from a book like this. 

CHRISSI: I really don’t think it should be challenged or banned in 2017. There is definitely a lot more explicit content out there. I think Young Adults could gain a lot from this book. I think it’s incredibly educative and something that shouldn’t be challenged at all. I certainly think it has a place in a high school/college library, with just a recommendation that their is some sensitive content within the story (some violence/sex scene).

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I’ve actually read this book before and have written a longer review of it on my blog. I gave it five stars when I read it three years ago and I give it five stars today. It’s a hugely important and emotional story about friendship, family and war that taught me a lot when I first read it and reminded me of a lot of things I had forgotten when I read it for a second time. Everyone should read it!

CHRISSI: This isn’t the first time I’ve read this book. It was interesting to read it back once more. I initially gave this book five stars, but I would say it’s a strong four for me as a reread. I think it’s so beautifully written and an incredibly emotional, moving read. I think it’s such an important book!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Banned Books 2017… REVEALED!

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

JANUARY – Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak OutSusan Kuklin

FEBRUARY – The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night TimeMark Haddon

MARCH – Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

APRIL –  HabibiCraig Thompson

MAY – Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story From AfghanistanJeanette Winter

JUNE – Saga – Volume 2Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

JULY – The Kite RunnerKhaled Hosseini

AUGUST – Thirteen Reasons WhyJay Asher

SEPTEMBER – Scary StoriesAlvin Schwartz

OCTOBER – ttylLauren Myracle

NOVEMBER – The Color Of EarthKim Dong Hwa

DECEMBER – The Agony Of AlicePhyllis Reynolds Naylor

Talking About ‘And The Mountains Echoed’ With Bibliobeth


How did I get it?:
I bought it!


So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one…

Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Adbullah, Pari, as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named, is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their skulls touching, their limbs tangled.

One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand.

Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways that we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history, and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.

CHRISSI: And the Mountains Echoed begins with Saboor and his children, Abdullah and Pari, and a heartbreaking event which divides them. Discuss the structure of the novel – how effectively are each of the stories linked?
BETH: There are a lot of storylines within this novel which I didn’t realise at first were connected until a character showed up who was the relative or friend of the character in the previous chapter and things would automatically click. I did love that we got to know a bit more about certain characters who had relatively minor roles previously and I thought everything slotted together perfectly. At first, I assumed that I would only be learning about Saboor, Abdullah and Pari and was pleasantly surprised to discover that there were a variety of characters to enjoy.

BETH: Which parts of this novel did you find most enjoyable?
CHRISSI: I absolutely loved the story at the beginning. I found it immediately engaging. I have to say one of my favourite elements of this story was the beautiful writing. I find the author has such an amazing way with words that even if I’m not completely loving the story, I’m in love with the way in which it is told.

CHRISSI: What did you make of the different types of media used in And The Mountains Echoed? E.g. the interview transcript and letters.
BETH: I think I could have seen a lot more of these to be honest! I do enjoy any different way of telling a tale and thought the interview transcript and letters was a refreshing and interesting way to tell parts of the story. It also gives the reader a bit more of an insight into a character’s particular way of thinking and/or behaving which can be compelling.

BETH: How did you think the relationships between siblings and between families were explored?
CHRISSI: I thought the relationships between siblings were at the core of this story. It was a very real look at how sibling relationships can bring you much joy, but also a lot of heartbreak. I thought it was an incredibly refreshing take on just how important your siblings are in your life.

CHRISSI: The story begins in Afghanistan, moves from France to Greece, and ends in America. Many of the characters in the book are displaced. Discuss the theme of exile in the novel.
BETH: I think the theme of exile begins right from the very first pages of this novel. Saboor is walking alone through the desert with his two children, Abdullah and Pari and the reader is left feeling slightly unsure about where they are travelling to and why. Separations occur throughout the novel – between siblings, between whole families and even cross over to other countries like France, Greece and America. Situations are not always resolved in a perfect manner, but I think all the whole this novel evokes strong imagery on the importance of family.

BETH: What did you think of the character of Nila and how her life ended up?
CHRISSI: I felt sorry for Nila. It’s hard to describe why without completing spoiling the story. I hated how Nila was treated. Her marriage certainly seemed to me, like it was a marriage for convenience, it was certainly keeping up appearances. I felt resentful of Nila’s father, for being so disapproving of Nila’s talent. Nila expressed her female desire and that was just too controversial for the time and culture she was living in. Nila’s relationship with her own writing is a struggle throughout her life. I was quite satisfied with how Nila’s life ended up, even though I think it had elements of sadness. I think she had an experience that not many Afghan women had available to them.

CHRISSI: I know you’ve read A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author, you haven’t yet read The Kite Runner, does your experience reading And The Mountains Echoed make you want to ‘bump’ it?
BETH: Most definitely! I know you loved The Kite Runner and I’ve been making you slightly crazy not having read it yet but I plan to read it very shortly. The author has such a beautiful way with words that reading one of his books feels like a real treat.

BETH: I found this book to be quite an emotional read. How did it feel for you emotion-wise?
CHRISSI: I agree that it was an emotional read. I think the writing plays a huge part in that. It’s incredibly lyrical and touching. I felt a wide range of emotions. I think the author really tugs at your heartstrings!

Would we recommend it?:
BETH: Of course!