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Half of a Yellow Sun    by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie order for
Half of a Yellow Sun
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2006 (2006)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

Half of a Yellow Sun is the remarkable second novel by the author of the acclaimed Purple Hibiscus. As in her first novel, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie revisits Nigeria, her homeland, and writes about the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War that took place in the late 1960's.

The story is told from three alternating viewpoints, both prior to the war and during the war. First there is Ugwu, the Nigerian teenager hired as houseboy for Odenigbo, a university intellectual who gathers with his friends every night to discuss the fragile nation heading for war. Ugwu learns much by quiet observation and comes to love his employers as if they were his family.

Next there is Olanna, Odenigbo's eventual wife and the daughter of a well-off Nigerian family. Olanna's complex relationship with her twin sister Kainene culminates in a devastating loss. Finally, there is Richard, Kainene's white British lover, a frustrated writer who comes to Nigeria to research a book and unexpectedly falls in love with a woman and her country.

The three characters are in the midst of war, but the author shows us that life continues, and hope prevails, even in the face of tragedy. The title refers to the symbol of Biafra: half of a yellow sun symbolized hope for the future of the new nation of Biafra, which seceded from Nigeria with the intention of forming a new country.

While there are disturbing scenes, the writing is superb, and Adichie puts a human face on war-torn Africa. The characters are authentic, the story is compelling. It is a worthwhile read, which will linger in your thoughts long after you turn the last page.

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