The good news is that we all loved this book. It was powerful, moving, emotional, and well-written. We spent a great deal of time talking about how we felt about each character's actions, and their motivations for taking them. The three of us also discussed the relationship between the father and son in Afghanistan and when they fled to the US, and how we were relieved that the son didn't become a wimpy person. However, we did spend some time discussing whether or not he intended to adopt Amir's son when he went to get him. Overall, we spent a lot of time talking about what we liked, which is always a good sign.
The bad news is that we all had some type of disturbing reaction. Karen admitted to not being able to stop thinking about the "what ifs" and certain scenes. Stephanie and I both had nightmares. I finished reading the book Christmas Day night, and spent the rest of the night dreaming about soldiers and invasions and sorrow. There are certainly some graphic parts, and surprisingly, none of us questioned the need for those scenes. But they did affect us, and I would caution anyone who reads this that a lot of bad things happen to good people, and not much bad happens to bad people.
But it was sad to read about the old Afghanistan, the one that no longer exists and will never return. Thanks to the Soviet invasion and the Taliban, so much of the culture has been lost. Almost two generations have been born into violence, and know nothing else. We can't even begin to understand how much has been lost, not just in objects, but in knowledge. The people who kept the traditions and culture alive are dying or dead, and there's no one to carry it on. I was listening to a program on the CBC a while back, and they were talking about how there are very few recordings of traditional Afghani music, and how the music was outlawed by the Taliban, so there are very few people left who can perform it.
But the sorrow was transcendent - there was redemption and the promise of hope for the characters in this book. Whether or not this is true for the country of Afghanistan, remains to be seen.