Half of a Yellow Sun uses three different perspectives to tell the story of Nigeria’s civil war. Reading the book made my heart hurt, my head ache, and my body grateful–for nourishment and love and all the things I have; things that are given and taken away and given back to Adichie’s characters throughout the book. The characters experience starvation, loss, guilt, shame, and regret..but also satisfaction, happiness, thankfulness, and desire.
I haven’t been so moved by a novel since I read Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. Similar to Foer’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun follows multiple characters who have experienced both deplorable tragedy and deep, penetrating love. It is also, ultimately, a book about forgiveness. Like Everything is Illuminated, the book makes a judgment about what is forgivable and what isn’t, and what it takes for us to realize the difference.
At the end of my copy of the novel, there was an interview with Adichie in which she posits “emotional truth” as the most important aspect of a good work of fiction. If Half of a Yellow Sun has anything, it is emotional truth. If you are looking for a good post-colonial history lesson, a novel telling African stories from an African perspective, as well as a romantic tale of star-crossed lovers and family ties, be sure to read this incredible story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Availability: USMAI, COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Helena Klassen
Rating: Highly Recommended