Rare is the author who excels at both characterization and plot but Hosseini is just such a writer. This book, set in Afghanistan on the brink of collapse as the Taliban moves in, is about the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and a servant’s son. The wealthy boy does nothing when he sees something truly horrific happen to his friend, but he gets his chance at redemption years later when he can help his friend’s son. The writing in his book is just wonderful. Hosseini is a great talent – able to give Westerners a glance into a culture we sometimes find inaccessible and confounding.