Two young boys grow up in Kabul in the golden age of Afghanistan's monarchy. Amir is the son of a rich man; Hassan the son of the faithful house servant. They aren't friends, exactly, just constant companions, sidekicks, playmates, rivals. Amir has a difficult relationship with his father and resents the favor he shows to Hassan. Hassan is so loyal and good that he comes to symbolize Amir's own feelings of guilt and inadequacy, and eventually their relationship is split apart by Amir's actions.
Amir emigrates to the US at the age of 12. Years later, after the death of his father, he is called back to Pakistan by an old family friend and given a chance to redeem his childhood sin.
Hosseini revels in Amir's burden of guilt; a moment of inaction becomes the defining moment of his life. Simultaneously, he provides a sad portrait of Afghanistan's deterioration and oppression under the Northern Alliance and the Taliban. The atrocities Amir witnesses as an adult are eerily similar to those he witnesses as a child, and it leaves me wondering whether Hosseini means to give moral equivalency to the oppression of economic inequality and the political, violent oppression offered by religious dictatorships.