Monday, July 24, 2017
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Some stories just tell themselves beautifully. Through the despair, hardships, triumph, joy and loss of the characters you begin to see the world in which they exists and the lives in which they are living. I feel like Half of a Yellow Sun tells itself beautifully. Taking place in the 1960’s before, during and after the Civil War in Nigeria, this book introduces you to a wide array of characters from Ugwu the houseboy, to his master Odenigbo, his wealthy girlfriend Olanna, her sister Kainene and Richard, the white man who came to Nigeria to study and falls in love with Kainene. Through these characters we experience the war in its entirety. We see the creation of a new nation, the plight of the refugees, the fear of those watching everything fall to ruins around them and the destruction.
This may very well be my favorite novel so far by Adichie. Not only were these characters well developed and full of depth but their stories were extremely intriguing. I loved the way simple changes were made depending on which character was the main focus of a chapter. Subtle changes in the text highlighted the relationships between people even though third person was used throughout the novel. Separating the text into four different parts, two in the Early Sixties and two in the Late Sixties really shaped the novel in an interesting way and set the stage for world building. The alternating narratives between the two separate time frames created an interesting plot device that really moved the stories along.
Reading this story completely unaware of the Nigerian Civil War and the genocide committed was more so than anything very enlightening. The main characters brought to the forefront so much pain that forces you to recognize that the story is rooted in a horrible truth. Adichie’s writing shines in this novel. This novel highlights her storytelling and her ability to provide detail, be informative and moving. I give this novel 5 out of 5 stars. I was totally engrossed in the story from beginning to end.
Monday, July 3, 2017
Imagine meeting a young boy with promises of an island where you will never grow up. Oh the fun you could have, leaving the world you know to have adventures. Imagine if the world you did know was one where you were unhappy, afraid, alone. Then this island and this boy, Peter, would have everything you could ever want. That was Jamie. He left the land he knew to follow Peter many, many seasons ago. He was the first boy Peter had ever brought to the island. They were best friends and they would never grow old. But as the seasons passed more boys would come. When those boys died either in Battle, during a raid against the pirates, from sickness or the Many-eyes, Peter would go back to the Other Place to get other boys. Jamie would be the one to bury the bodies. He was also the one that made sure the boys were taken care of, looked after, and while everyone had fun, Jamie kept them safe. This is the story of Captain Hook, the boy once known as Jamie, and how he went from being Peter Pan’s right hand to losing his.
Jamie is the narrator throughout Lost Boy and he is nothing at all like the villain I remember. He is Peter’s best friend, his favorite and the fiercest fighter that leaves his mark on pirates by taking their right hand by their own sword. But he is also caring, thoughtful and a fierce protector. Even though he is a child, he holds a certain maturity that you would expect from someone older. Henry did an amazing job developing his character and his voice. Through his eyes I learned of the other boys and the truth of Peter, who is a brutal, uncaring child that feeds off violence and parades it off as fun. All of the characters jumped off the page so well developed it was almost frightening. And the island they lived on was full of a certain mysticism where monsters roamed and secrets were hidden.I’m a sucker for anything Peter Pan. I fell in love with Disney’s version as a child, loved “Hook” and even watched the short run cartoon show that ran in my childhood. But I didn’t read the novel Peter Pan until I was an adult. I was able to see in Peter Pan the things I wouldn’t have noticed if I read it as a child. Like how Peter “took care of” the boys if they started to grow up. Or what an extremely arrogant trickster he was. I felt bamboozled by the reality of who Peter really was and honestly my opinion of a character I truly loved changed dramatically. Henry’s novel about Captain Hook takes this image of Peter Pan a step further. This novel is dark and brutal with amazing world and character development. I lost myself in this story both horrified an amazed by the lengths that Peter was willing to go to keep Jamie by his side. This is the perfect prequel to Peter Pan and an extremely fascinating background for Captain Hook. It’s easy to feel sympathy for the man that would become Hook and see the cruelty of Peter. The clues were left in Peter Pan that there was more to the boy who would never grow up, something much darker and sinister. Henry exposed all of that in Lost Boy. I give this novel 5 out of 5 stars.
Saturday, July 1, 2017
George by Alex Gino
George loved reading Charlotte’s Web. So much so that George cried at the end when Charlotte died. Charlotte was everything she wanted to be. She wants to play Charlotte in the school play but her fear of everyone finding out that she is really a girl is crippling. Her mom and brother don’t know that she feels this way. George isn’t like the other boys because she isn’t a boy. She is a girl. But how to prove to everyone that what they see isn’t everything.
Simple, powerful, timely and necessary. Those are the four words I would use to describe this book. Here we have a young person by the name of George, who was born a male but believes himself to be female. She is afraid of what that means but believes in her heart that is true. How do you reveal that information to the people you love most: your mother, brother, best friend? How can you prove to someone what you know is true. George was such a great character. She was well developed and had a great inner dialogue. Readers really understood the amount of anxiety that her identity was causing her and what each challenge was.
Representation matters and I cannot stress that enough. As well written and age appropriate that this book is, it can and will have an impact on the lives of those begging for representation. I really enjoyed and found it to be a quick an easy read with so much depth. I give this 4 out of 5 stars.