Half of a Yellow Sun

Book: Half of a Yellow Sun

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Short Summary:
In this story we follow several different characters leading up to and during the Biafran war in Nigeria. We are taken into the heart of the war and the devestation it causes all involved. The plot revolves around Ugwu, a houseboy for Odenigbo who is a professor and a big supporter of the revolution. He is living with the beautiful younger woman Olanna. Olanna’s sister, Kainene is involved with a British man Richard who is living in Nigeria. Together, these characters form bonds, live through betrayal, grow together and apart,  and deal with the horrors of war.

My Thoughts:
This was not only a very well written, engaging book, it was also extremely educational. One reason I love to read is to learn, and this book truly helped me to do that. I knew very, very little about Nigeria before reading this book and had sadly never heard of the Biafran war. Through the pages of this novel I was introduced to an amazing set of characters who taught me about this interesting country and the war they fought with both spirit and despair.

This was a book club choice and led to some great conversation. Some did not particularly enjoy the format of the book. It jumps back and forth before the war and during the war. I actually liked the use of the time changes. It was interesting for me to see what happens and then go back and see how the characters got to where they are. It put a little intrigue in the story for me.

I enjoyed most of the characters. They were interesting and none of them felt one-dimensional. Since the story covered about several years, I really saw the characters grow and change throughout.

This is a book I would recommend. It is long, but very educational, has great character development, and makes for a good discussion.

My Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Little Bee

Book: Little Bee

Author: Chris Cleave

Short Summary:
“Little Bee”, a girl from Nigeria, is freed from a detention center in England. She a makes her way to the home of Sarah and Andrew, a couple Little Bee had encountered on a beach during a tragic day in Nigeria a few years before. As their friendship grows, the reader hears the voice of both Little Bee and Sarah in alternating chapters. We learn much about the lives of the Nigerian teen and English woman and how their lives become intertwined.

My Thoughts:
This was without a doubt the best narration I have heard of an audio book. I don’t think I would have liked the book nearly as much had I just read it instead of listened to it. The narrator did the voice of both the Nigerian teenager, Little Bee, and the English woman, Sarah, so brilliantly. The voices were so distinct and helped to add life to the story. The subtle humor in the book also really shined through the narrator’s voice. If you are going to read this book, I highly recommend the audio version.

This book pulled me in right away. I think a lot of it had to do with the narration, but the writing itself was very well done as well. I quickly fell in love with both the characters of Little Bee and Sarah, but I think the star of the book was Batman, AKA Charlie, Sarah’s son. Again, I’m not sure if it was due to the narration of his voice or how his character was written, but I wanted to take him out of the book and claim him as my own.

A big theme of this book was good and evil, right and wrong. Charlie, a four-year old who was always dressed in his batman costume, saw the world in terms of goodies and baddies. Through Sarah and Little Bee, along with Sarah’s husband Andrew and lover Lawrence, we see that there is quite a grey area. I felt this was well demonstrated throughout.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. I think it would make a great book club choice, with many topics of discussion. There is friendship, murder, suicide, immigration, war, and a glitzy magazine all wrapped up into this one little gem.

My Rating: 4.25/5 stars