Ryan Mishap's Reviews > Bruised Hibiscus

Bruised Hibiscus by Elizabeth Nunez
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's review
Oct 20, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: favorite-novels
Read in January, 2002

There are many books that contain gross amounts and kinds of violence against women, and for many of them, this is the main reason they were written and the main reason some people read them. There are other books, though, which contain enough shocking debasement and brutalisation of people--mainly wimmin--to match these but stand against the misogyny they describe. What's the difference? A book of fiction from a reality that doesn't deny a character their humanity; doesn't let go of compassion and true human nature. Where nihilism doesn't triumph, but the ending doesn't have to be happy. Bruised Hibiscus is this kind of novel.
Set in Trinidad, it tells the story of two wimmin, who, as girls, witness a shocking scene while hiding in the bushes. This occurence reveals their differences and seperate realities to each other. They part, and Zuela (originally from Venezuela) is taken by a Chinese opium trader when she is twelve and essentially kept prisoner. Rosa, who is white, marries a Trinidad-born man who becomes obsessed with the belief that she is cheating on him. When the body of a white woman washes up on shore, it sets off a chain of events that brings Zuela and Rosa back together. Unleashed are buried truths, violence, and redemption, of a sort. The end is tear inducing, but this book is tackling complex things and should be read.
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