My first book of 2014! This was 3.5 stars.
So. Kim is an orphan who has survived quite well on the streets of Lahore. He ends up a disciple to a kindly old Tibetan lama who is on a spiritual quest to find the river that will cleanse him of his sins. HOWEVER, Kim is also friends with a Muslim horse trader who also happens to be a spy for the British and he recruits Kim to do some work for him which eventually results in Kim's true Sahib-ness being discovered -- Kim is actually Kimball O'Hara. Kim is sent away to a school for English boys (paid for by his lama) and the British decide to use Kim's street smarts and natural intelligence to become an agent in The Great Game. Which sounds way more exciting than what it actually is -- some kind of beef between England and Russia for domination in Central Asia. Oh, imperialism.
Kim goes on many adventures along India and meets lots of people, thus making Kim
notable for its diverse portrait of the people, culture, regions, and religions of India. Which would be wonderful except that I am an ignorant dummy: I have some basic and hazy concepts of Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Bengalis, Jains, people from the hill vs. the plains, Lahore vs. Bombay, etc. but I think I missed some of those nuances that, in part, makes the book so enjoyable.
I really did like Kim: he was smart, loyal, and endearingly lovely to and protective of his lama. Reading about a teenager being kind and respectful to an elderly person is a nice change, even if it's only fiction. Kim is not exactly introspective, but he definitely changes over the course of the novel -- he starts off as a street smart, independent 13 year old orphan living on the streets and ends the novel as a 17 year old British spy with a father figure who loves and cares for him. Oh, and I also love Hurree and Muhbub Ali. Happy endings!