K's Reviews > Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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's review
Feb 13, 10

liked it
bookshelves: africa, intense-sad-dark-or-bleak, thank-god-i-wasn-t-born-there, should-ve-been-shorter
Recommended for: People with a strong interest/background in Biafran history

This book is the story of four central characters -- Nigerian twin sisters Olanna and Kainene, Kainene's British lover Richard, and Ugwu, houseboy to Olanna and her husband Odenigbo. It is also the story of the ultimately defeated struggle for Biafran independence in the 1960s.

The setting was interesting, the writing strong, and the characters well-developed. The pace flagged occasionally but the story mostly moved at a good clip. So why only three stars? Somehow the book was too long for me, especially since I often felt that the characters were serving as a backdrop for the Nigerian Civil War rather than the reverse. Biafran history is not a subject with which I'm very familiar, and although the book did increase my awareness, I still felt a bit distanced overall which made it a bit of a struggle to get through 541 pages.

I think I would have enjoyed the book more had it been half the length, or had I been more familiar with the history involved.
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Reading Progress

02/11/2010 page 218
40.3% "Enjoying the writing, but the story is getting too long. I could also use a timeline of Biafran history. Hard to follow; I'm ignorant here." 1 comment

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by M (new) - rated it 2 stars

M sure- have to update my reviews!

message 2: by M (new) - rated it 2 stars

M Am on p 192 (luckily have a snow day so am able to read for the first time since vaca) - was just curious, if you're this far in, richard mentions that kainene seemed to have forgiven the 'incident with olanna' - did I miss something? At times I did skim a little bc it got boring but I definitely don't remember an incident, or is this something that is being alluded to that will be clarified later? I mean there is a lot of foreshadowing that there will be some sketchy betrayal happening but did I already miss it?

message 3: by M (new) - rated it 2 stars

M Also, are we supposed to know yet why Kainene hates Olanna or is that another thing we find out later? I'm getting confused since I haven't been able to read every page per se.

message 4: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K Great to hear from you! Enjoy the snow day. Alas, I've been sidetracked by my temporary single motherhood while Saadia's in the U.S. and by a book I'm reading for my teaching. I'm only up to p. 112.

I don't know of any specific incident with Olanna, unless maybe I missed it too. From what I can tell, Kainene seems jealous of Olanna's beauty and the advantages it brings, but that's the only sense I'm getting of why there's animosity between them. So maybe it will be clarified later on.

How are you liking it? I agree that it occasionally gets boring, but I'm mostly enjoying it.

message 5: by M (new) - rated it 2 stars

M Oh I get the jealousy, I just felt 'incident' indicated something more than that, but with a book like this it is unclear if that's just someting that wil happen later.
So at times draggy and there are things i am critical of but overall, yea, enjoying. I definitely do Africa more than India.
How did Saad;s shabbos plans work out, does he have pple in HP and T to stay at? Does this mean youre defnitely coming back?

message 6: by M (new) - rated it 2 stars

M Can we do the gate stairs book, its not renewable, next?

message 7: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K Gate stairs?

I'm happy to do it next, but I'm not sure which book you mean; I don't know if I have anything with "gate stairs" on my shelf.

Why don't you start it (and post the title); it'll take me a little more time to finish Half of a Yellow Sun in any case so if I don't have the gate stairs one, we can read the one after that together.

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