Friday, August 10, 2007

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It took me ages to finish this book. In fact it is overdue at the library even as I write. I think I read four other books while in the process of reading this one. And it is such a good book that my excuse may seem lame, but here is it. This book was so sad and heartbreaking that I just had to take breaks from it. The plot was good, and it is incredibly well written and I have already advised a number of reader friends of mine to get it, but it still hurt my heart so much, that I couldn't read it straight through.

The big picture of this story is the war between the Nigerians and the Biafrans in the early 1960's. Adichie doesn't hold anything back. The starvation and rapes and genocide is all in here and it will break your heart. But it is the smaller stories that will really stay with you when you are finished with this book.

There is 13 year old Ugwu who becomes a houseboy for a university professor. He is a wonderful, smart young man who aims to please and who loves his job. His fate is the one that I think I followed most closely because I really liked him as a character.

The professor's love is the beautiful Olanna who has a twin sister Kainene. They come from a good family and are passionate about the cause of Biafra and about the men in their lives. They are quite different from each other, and how they come together is a big part of this story.

And Kainene's love interest is Richard. An English ex-pat who came to Africa to write and ended up being caught up, by choice, in the war and the war effort. In a moment of drunken foolishness he has sex with Kainene's sister and that changes everything.

This is such a sweeping novel I feel that it is hard to do it justice without giving too much away. If you know the history of Africa, you know how the war ended, but it is the small dramas of these characters that make this a stunning novel, perhaps the best that I have read this year.


Literary Feline said...

I am glad you liked this one. I also really liked it when I read it in June. I read it along with several other books set in various parts of Africa.

Lisa Jean said...

Thanks LF. I am thinking of suggesting it for my bookgroup this fall.

kookiejar said...

It also took me forever to finish this one, (but for different reasons). I just couldn't get into it, until the actual war started..then I couldn't put it down. It was really good. Terribly sad, but very good.

Lisa Jean said...

You know Kookiejar. That was true for me too, a bit. The second half went better than the first half, and it was strange that way, because I liked the characters and the setting. Hmmm