The Kites is a powerful coming-of-age story set during World War 2 that is packed with warm & lovable characters, with an essence of magic on every page & a timeline that will consume you. This book was everything & so much more, & I absolutely adored it.
I received this book from Penguin in return for an honest review.
This book contains war related themes such as violence & death, discussions of prostitution & torture, as well as characters using Native American slurs.
The Kites follows young Ludo & his kite-making guardian through the years before & throughout World War 2; we meet some wonderful young adults & some incredible people who refuse to be broken. It also tells a story of kites & perfectly demonstrates how people can use creativity to escape from the horrors of reality. But, most importantly this is a story of resilience, strength & pride – the most important part of this book isn’t the kites or the infatuation that Ludo develops for a young aristocrat; no, it’s a story about how people push on with their day-to-day lives when the world is crashing down around them.
This World War 2 book is unlike any war book I’ve ever read; my emotions are always hyper sensitive when I read any historical fiction set during times of conflict but The Kites takes that to another level. It is so perfectly written & full of so many wholesome & engaging characters that one can’t help but fall in heart first. The emotion in the book expertly creeps up on you – you fall in love with the characters & the kites without even realising – then things go wrong & it leaves you traumatised & crying your eyes out.
This book is historical fiction – not historical fantasy – but despite this there is a consistent feel of magic laced into the writing of this story & that magic comes from the kites (obviously) & from a character named Lila. Neither the kites or Lila feature in every chapter in this book; in fact, neither are legitimate main characters, but from the moment each one is mentioned in the story to the very last line of the book their magic is present & it’s wonderful. You’ll close this book in love with Lila & thinking that kites are everything.
Unfortunately, Lila’a magic isn’t all grown from positivity though… a war book without a hint of mental health wouldn’t tell a true story in my opinion & The Kites tells a very true story indeed. Lila is depressed, totally, undeniably & completely depressed – & it’s soul shattering because she’s truly wonderful. Her depression makes this book a lot more engaging though & Romain Gary has done a practically perfect job of portraying depression in a young woman. It took me ages to work Lila out, ages to understand her & to understand what motivates & breaks her, but by the end of the book I was completely in love with her.
I genuinely only have one criticism of this book & that’s the use of a Native American slur – I don’t remember how many times this occurs in the book but regardless of how few times it was used it was totally unnecessary & added nothing to the story.
Penguin have released this book as part of their Classics collection & I can totally understand why – I feel like this is one of those books that will connect with almost every single person that reads it – so you absolutely must read it. If you use the Amazon or Book Depository links to make a purchase I will receive a small fee at no cost to you so please consider doing so.
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