Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the incredible story of life in Nigeria during the Biafran War! The story is told through three main narrators: Olanna, Richard, and Ugwu. Olanna is a wealthy Igbo living with her boyfriend Odenigbo, an intellectual, who feels “Education is a priority! How can we resist exploitation if we don’t have the tools to understand exploitation?” He is very political and throws parties in which people from the university come to discuss literature and current events. Odenigbo is by far my favorite character! He has a houseboy Ugwu who is from a poor, rural village and is also one of the narrators. The minute that Ugwu moved in, Odenigbo was questioning him about his education and required him to start school immediately. He is stuck between two worlds really, as he left all his family behind in their village living in poverty. Finally, there is Richard who is in a relationship with Olanna’s twin sister. He is an English writer. The lives of these people are intertwined and the characters are very well developed. No one is flat. I deeply cared about all of them, some more than others. Everyone is very human and the way Chimamanda developed all the characters, switched perspectives constantly, and switched time periods constantly is incredible. Like I said this book was very well done!
Not only are the characters incredibly strong in this novel, but I learned a bit about the Biafran War/Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) and how quickly lives can change. As this book was historical fiction, you learn about the war through the eyes of the characters and it’s sometimes confusing to understand the whole situation when you are in the middle of it. I read a bit on the war after finishing this book, saw which side the US supported (even though they claimed to be neutral), and realized, even more than before, how horrible war is. There are good people on either side of a conflict and they get hurt, badly. The portions of this book describing war are horrible to read about and yet incredibly powerful.
This book fulfills the “book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with” category for the 2016 Reading Challenge! I have LOTS more planned for this category though, especially or Black History Month so be prepared for some reads not fulfilling categories in this challenge. On another note, join me in this read along I’m doing! #ReadSoulLit