These contemporary classics have earned the author’s standing as one of the most important literary writers today. The story of The Kite Runner is so compelling that in 2007 it was made into a moving, powerful major motion picture.
But, if like most readers you agree that there is more to be gained from reading a book than watching a film or TV series, then you’ll want to know about other books that are just as powerful and moving, which is why I’ve put this article together.
The books, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, are both set in war-torn Afghanistan, but they feature different characters and situations. But it’s what the books have in common with one another that makes these stories so powerful and moving.
And that’s the themes that they entail, including family dynamics and friendship, betrayal, sacrifice, and the price of loyalty, and how, in the midst of great turmoil, love can conquer all.
Discover 6 powerful, moving, emotionally resonant books like The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, such as And The Mountains Echoed (by Khaled Hosseini), The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Book Thief, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, Shantaram, and The Dressmaker of Khair Khana.
Themes In The Kite Runner And A Thousand Splendid Suns
Family Dynamics And Friendships
The Kite Runner tells of an unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, and it explores this dynamic against the power of fathers over their sons.
Meanwhile, in A Thousand Splendid Suns, two women from different generations are suddenly thrust together in a nasty twist of fate.
Despite their significant differences, however, the two of them form such a bond that they become like family to one another.
Sacrifice And The Price Of Loyalty/Betrayal
But the books aren’t plain sailing by any means. In The Kite Runner, for example, there’s an exploration of themes such as love, betrayal, lies, and sacrifice.
Similarly, in A Thousand Splendid Suns, the author shows how a woman’s love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice.
Power In The Midst Of Turmoil
You cannot forget the backdrop of these stories. In a crucial moment of change and destruction in war-torn Afghanistan, an unforgiving time, with harsh treatment and ever-escalating dangers both at home and in the streets, can enough power be drawn from family and friendship to allow love to prevail?
Books Like The Kite Runner And A Thousand Splendid Suns
Here we have another great book by the wonderful author Khaled Hosseini, which is just as beautifully written as his books The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.
This too is a prominent Bestseller, with the same overarching themes of family, bonds, and looking after one another.
It’s focused on family life, close and broader family connections, and also features themes of emotional wounds, betrayal, and being prepared to sacrifice for those we hold dear.
It describes how the various choices we make can resonate down through the generations, choices that hold consequences for the lives of others as well as yourselves.
It’s a story of contrasts, rich and poor, secrets and confessions, pain and pleasure, war and peace, faithful and godless. As the story progresses, it becomes more emotionally complex and more powerful with every turn of the page.
- It’s a story that spans the globe, from pre-Soviet Afghanistan, all the way through to the glam and glitz of Paris
- Poetically written, this very moving tale surprises the reader and takes their soul through a journey they never expected to take
- Some readers have found it confusing because it’s told from the point of view of several different characters
Themes: Family Dynamics and Friendships, Betrayal, Sacrifice, Nurturing, Life Choices, and Consequences
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is also a prominent Bestseller and has even been made into a major motion picture. Like The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, it’s also set in a war-torn era with incredibly deep divides between peoples.
The tale centers around a 9-year-old boy, Bruno, who moves close to a Nazi concentration camp when his father becomes a commander there.
When walking along the fence of the concentration camp one day, Bruno befriends a Jewish boy by the name of Schmuel. Bruno’s parents had shielded him away from what was really intended for the concentration camps.
- Powerfully moving and at the same time horrifying, especially the ending
- A lesson to us all – humanity has a dark side that we all must watch out for, and we should never be complacent when division arises
- Grizzly goings-on that are hard to comprehend, its central character may be a boy, but this is no children’s book
Themes: Family Dynamics and Friendships, War, Humanity’s Depths, Complacency
The Book Thief is also a Bestseller and has even been made into a major motion picture.
Like The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, it’s also set in a country struggling with war and the segregation of different peoples, though this time it’s set in Nazi Germany.
It centers around a young girl and her foster family, who are hiding a Jew from the Nazis. The girl has discovered the ability to read and develops a yearning for the power of storytelling.
This leads her to steal books banned by the Nazis from her neighbors during bombing raids, which she shares with the gentleman in the basement.
Somehow, author Markus Zusak is able to render this horrible era bearable, and explores many of the same morality and philosophical issues that are also explored in books like A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner.
The concept of storytelling is what Liesel uses to then bring people together and help them to hold on to what they have as things get tougher and tougher. The Nazis cannot kill their spirit or legacy.
- Unique writing style – the story is told with Death as the narrator, with dark humor throughout
- Powerful, moving, and memorable – the story will stay with you
- There are those who argue that the content may be too upsetting for younger readers
Themes: War, Reading, Poverty, Violence, Power In The Midst Of Turmoil
Now, this is a book with a lot in common with The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Not only does it carry the same powerful emotional resonance as books by Khaled Hosseini, but it also features the same themes and even the same settings, taking place in Kabul in Afghanistan.
It tells the story of young Rahima and the crushing cultural restrictions faced by her and her sisters. Rahima is forced to take part in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age.
The tale also crosses back in time to Rahima’s great-great-grandmother, Shekiba, who was sadly orphaned and had to build a new life the same way. But what happens next, when the girls reach marrying age?
It’s a tale of seeming powerlessness and being slaves to our fate until you can see a way through and take your fate into your own hands in order to get by.
- Provides important insight into oppressive cultures in present day
- A gripping narrative that is expertly written with parallel stories
- Reads like an autobiography, totally absorbing, emotional, and powerful
- A brutal, heartbreaking story that doesn’t shy away from tough issues
Themes: Women’s Issues, Oppressive Cultures, Forced Marriage, Bravery and Courage, Hardship, Tenacity, Family Dynamics, Strong Characters
This book has an amazing storyline, is set in India, and is presented in rich, vivid detail. It follows the story of Lin, an escaped convict who finds himself in Mumbai’s hidden society of beggars and gangsters.
He is a hunted man with no home, family, or identity. But that doesn’t stop him from searching for love and meaning, even if it is in one of the city’s poorest slums. His search leads him to war, murder, and betrayal.
Unlikely mentor, the mafia godfather, come criminal-philosopher-saint, Khada Khan guides Lin through the city. And also noteworthy is the elusive, dangerous, and beautiful Karla. Like And The Mountains Echoed, it is a tale of stark contrasts.
Criminal wars and Bollywood films, romantic love and prison agonies, burning slums, and five-star hotels. It weaves cinematic description with the gamut of human experience and emotion.
- Provides a rich reading experience, with vivid storytelling and contrast
- A truly epic tale with a wild plot featuring vibrant, colorful characters
- A beautifully written and thought-provoking page-turner
- Ends in a cliff-hanger (but there are only two books in the series)
Themes: Power In The Midst Of Turmoil, Regret, Forgiveness, War
Like The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, this moving, inspiring novel is set in war-torn Afghanistan.
It is a story about a remarkable family and a courageous young woman, Kamila, who not only reinvented herself to save her family, but moreover became an entrepreneur (a dressmaker), even under Taliban rule, and created jobs for 100 women.
Kamila is a truly extraordinary woman, with a resourcefulness and tenacity that brought hope to ordinary women where once there was none. A story of how victims can thrive once they drop the victim mindset and resolve to succeed.
What makes the story even more transformative is that it’s actually based on a true story, told by none other than the former ABC journalist, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.
- A fascinating window on Afghan life under the Taliban, covering family, gender, business, and politics
- A truly uplifting read, telling of the resiliency of the human spirit
- Captivating storytelling throughout that’s both eye-opening and heartwarming at the same time
- Some readers have found the story repetitive in places
Themes: Family, Important Political And Humanitarian Issues, Culture, Tenacity, Entrepreneurship, Women’s Rights
What makes books like The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns really stand out is just how moving they all are, and how they discuss family connections and different cultures and attitudes, which have much to teach us about overcoming differences and working together for a higher purpose, that purpose being love and compassion for one another.
It’s also about acquiring what’s necessary to spark hope where once was none. And of course, they cover the importance of coming face-to-face with hard truths, and never ever being complacent in the face of wrongdoing.
It is the themes and the life lessons as much as the storytelling that lifts The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns to their place in contemporary literature, and few works can hold a candle to them.
You will find much the same sort of themes in the books And The Mountains Echoed, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Book Thief, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, Shantaram, and The Dressmaker of Khair Khana.
These books are all equally powerful and moving, and will stay with you long after the last page.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Book Should I Read If I Like Kite Runner?
The book I’d most strongly recommend for those who love The Kite Runner has to be And The Mountains Echoed, by the same author, Khaled Hosseini.
Can A 15-Year-Old Read A Thousand Splendid Suns?
I would highly recommend this book to older teens and adults, but you may want to keep it away from younger readers due to graphic images and unpleasant terminology.