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Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Where did I get it? I bought it ages ago as my friend Laura kept recommending Adichie to me. I picked it up as part of Diverse December. 

What's it about? This is an adult novel, but I think some discerning older teenagers would be okay reading it and would enjoy it. It takes place in Nigeria before and during the Nigerian War, which was something I knew nothing about. It has four points of view - Ugwu, who is sent from his village to work as a houseboy for Odenigbo. Odenigbo's girlfriend Olanna moves in with them, whose twin sister Kainene works for their dad. Kainene's English boyfriend Richard is often at Odenigbo's in the evenings, when intellectuals gather to discuss politics and so on. Ugwu learns to read and is very close to his Master and Olanna. Trouble is brewing between the Hausa people and the Igbo people, and eventually all of Odenigbo's household has to flee to escape the conflict. A new republic, Biafra, is created, a name which was familiar to me as having had a famine - caused, in fact, by this war. The narrative jumps between the early 60s, before the conflict, to the late 60s, during the conflict, and then back again, showing us the birth of Baby, Olanna and Odenigbo's daughter. When we go back finally to the late 60s, the war is coming to an end and Biafra falls.

This is an epic novel in scope, themes, characters, and language. It's brilliant.

What age range is it for? Like I said, a discerning 16 year old could enjoy this, but do be careful  

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No

Are any main characters non-white? Yes, as it's set in Nigeria. Richard, the main white character, has a lot of reflections on being a white minority in Africa, it's interesting. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Yes, I mean, there's a war

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, it is a little explicit. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No

Is there any talk of death? Yes, there's a war and a famine, and a couple of explicitly gruesome deaths, which the main characters talk about and reliver. 

Are there swear words? Yes, a few

Would I recommend the book? Yes, absolutely. 

How many stars? 9 out of 10. It took me ages to read but I did really like it. 

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