Three Books You Cannot Put Down
by an 11th grade reporter
I started reading before I started speaking, and it's been my favorite pastime since. There are so many books that have deepened my love for reading.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is dangerously captivating. Yet, it’s so tragic and heartbreaking. The glaringly evident strength is the author’s storytelling skills. Readers can
be immersed in the world Khaled Hosseini creates within seconds. They are also able to feel unsaid empathy for fictional characters. I don’t think there are any weaknesses in this book.
When the protagonist, Amir, was twelve years old, he dreamt of pleasing his father. All his life, he believed he was a disappointment. He also longed to be pardoned for, what he said was, “killing my mother.” Amir thinks his father holds him responsible for his wife’s demise, which happened right after Amir was born. So, he wished to exceed his father’s expectations in the kite tournament, which might be why he didn’t defend his long time friend, Hassan, when he was abused while retrieving the last kite.
The last kite of the tournaments was sacred, and they were not easy to get. Amir and Hassan had been friends since birth, even Hassan’s first word had been "Amir." This should have created an uncanny kinship between them, but Amir froze when Hassan needed his help. The words, “For you, a thousand times over'' have haunted Amir since the winter of 1975. This is a symbolic phrase the author repeats. Not only does it set the tone for the rest of the story, but the author also foreshadows Amir’s path to redemption.
Even years after he left Afghanistan, he would remember what happened that night. But it took a family friend, Rahim Khan, to reach out for him to return. He met Sohrab, Hassan’s cherished son, and vowed to make life better for him. He promised to protect Sohrab in a way that he couldn’t do for Hassan. His childhood friend had found happiness in this child and named him after a beloved character from the Shahnamah. This book had explored what it truly meant to be a hero.
But, Amir unintentionally lets Sohrab down, and it leads Sohrab to make life-altering choices. Amir stays with Sohrab, trying to keep his spirits high. As they are flying kites in the park, Amir runs to get the kite, saying the same thing to Sohrab, as Hassan told him years ago. Needless to say, Amir found redemption for himself and felt liberated. He was able to move past mistakes he made as a child and, more importantly, learn from them. He hasn’t solved everything, though. Sohrab has been through a lot, and losing his parents while growing up in unstable environments hurt his childhood. But it was just the beginning, it could only go up from there.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini might just be my all-time favorite book. I highly recommend this book. It is a tale shrouded in enigma, allowing readers to be completely absorbed in the story. It is such a beautiful and intricately woven novel that
examines three decades of Afghanistan history. Khaled Hosseini also uses his protagonists to portray the harmful effects of gender stereotypes on society. The author created an incredibly intense book that contains a harsh truth. This message was revealed in the first few pages, “Nana said, ‘Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.’”
Mariam’s mother, who she calls ‘Nana,’ said this to her when she was just a child, yet it remained the external truth for the rest of her life. The author uses repetition as a literary device to convey this message. When her father let her down, he didn’t feel guilty about it until many years later. When the Taliban took away simple rights, like access to education, they claimed it was because a woman shouldn’t be without a man. When she was in an abusive marriage, Rasheed (her husband) blamed her for every minor inconvenience and got furious. This repetition throughout the book exemplifies the imbalance of power Mariam faces.
In the novel Beartown, Fredrik Backman expresses profound lessons about the world through a hockey town of his imagination. Except, in this small town, hockey is much more than a measly sport. It is integrated into everyone’s lives. Hockey symbolizes power, and the
best players and coaches have the epitome of respect. Playing a competitive sport increases the town’s greed for victory. For instance, “the club is more than a club, it’s a kingdom over which the strongest men in the forest are fighting for power, and there is no place for Sune there.”
People disagree with Sune’s unconventional methods and plan to fire him, even though he has been a successful coach for over a decade. Sune is about seventy years old, and he is a well known mentor to many people in the community. He wants to make sure he coaches a team of children with proper morals. Everyone expects a group of teenagers to pull the town into the spotlight. Sune wanted them to play hockey to have fun, not only to win. The hockey team in Beartown has a constant power struggle, with everyone having their own ideas of what the team should represent. Later on, the consequences of these expectations are clear. This pressure was the catalyst for a traumatic event that changed everything. Beartown is a great read for those that enjoy learning about societal themes through drama and interesting characters.
Moreover, the author pays close attention to literary devices to convey this message. The most prevalent method was symbolism. The author made sure to repeat the notions of hockey and cherry trees as symbols. As mentioned earlier, hockey is the first symbol of the book. It is a sport the people in Beartown have dedicated themselves to. They accept everything — the physical and emotional toll — that comes with it. Cherry trees were a symbol Sune, the A-team coach, introduced. On page 415, he thinks, “Cherry trees always smell of cherry trees. They do that in hockey towns.” This symbolizes the moment Sune recognizes pure talent. This happened to him three times throughout his career. Each time he experienced it, he smelled the sweet fragrance of a cherry tree. These moments allowed him to understand the origin of his love for hockey and why he became a coach.
These books are especially important in our world today. They allow readers to dive into another time and look at the flaws of society. The themes present in these stories resonate with people, and it is worth taking your time to read.