This entry was pre-written because I am currently on my honeymoon in Cambodia and Thailand!
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is one of the best books I have ever read. It is also one of the most heartbreaking. In fact, it reminded me in many, many ways of the saddest English novel ever written, Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, a book so depressing that after writing it, Hardy gave up writing prose and stuck only to poetry for the last 20 years of his writing career (although making him one of the few writers to gain substantial, critical acclaim in more than one genre). Just as nineteenth century Jude negotiates faith and identity in a rapidly modernizing England, Amir must reconcile the beautiful Kabul of his childhood with the Taliban-controlled extremist state of 2001 and the split American/Afghan identity within him. Both characters are paralyzed by and must confront their own flawed humanity.
Really this book has been praised so much that it would be impossible for me to add anything new to the conversation, except this: When I read Les Miserables by Victor Hugo in seventh grade, I was up all night weeping and reading. I came to my parents the next morning, eyes bloodshot and completely in earnest, and said, "I have to go to Paris right now." My parents thought this was a cute moment of my melodramatic nature, but really just the book evoked such an intense connection with a place I'd never been that I felt in that instant that I must reconcile the gap between my changed heart and my physical location. After reading The Kite Runner, I feel the same aching need to visit Kabul, Afghanistan.
It is absolutely a must-read, and I cannot wait to read Hosseini's second, A Thousand Splendid Suns.