Purple Hibiscus

Purple HibiscusPurple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“It was during family time the next day, a Saturday, that the coup happened.  Papa had just checkmated Jaja when we heard the martial music on the radio, the solemn strains making us stop to listen.  A general with a strong Hausa accent came on and announced that there had been a coup and that we had a new government.  We would be told shortly who our new head of state was.use the phone in his study. 

Papa pushed the chessboard aside and excused himself to use the phone in his study.  Jaja and Mama and I waited for him, silently.  I knew he was calling his editor, Ade Coker, perhaps to tell him something about covering the coup.  When he came back, we drank the mango juice, which Sisi served in tall glasses, while he talked about the coup.  He looked sad; his rectangular lips seemed to sag.  Coups begat coups, he said . . . “

This is a coming of age story that takes place in Nigeria. It calls into question the definition of being a good person, as well as the role of religion in daily life. It is a fantastic start for the author, and I cannot wait to read more from her.

The main person who bring conflict to the storyteller is Papa. Papa is a successful and generous man. His business ventures provide for his family, and the families surrounding his quite nicely. He is a prominent member of society donating his money to churches and the less privileged. However at home while he provides a luxurious lifestyle he restricts his family from the enjoyment of it. The hours of the day are strictly scheduled and the expectations to excel are high. When his expectations are not fulfilled punishment can be expected. The author shows how this contradiction of views affects the main character Kambili. (Emphasis on the first syllable.) Kambili loves her father, and feels pride for his actions but at the same time has a debilitating fear of how he will react to her actions.

The character development of the family characters amid this stresser are very well written. They are true to life, and heartbreaking in their accuracy.  They show that while people all over the world are different, some things are always the same.  Family dynamics, and the actions that love lead family members to take are not limited to any one group.

Another theme that the book hold is religion and it’s role in influencing peoples actions.  The father is a strict Catholic who appreciates the regiment of the ceremonies.  He is generous to the church, but also uses the church to further his own agenda.  Kambili however meets a man of God who is not at all like her father.  He instead lives his religion through loving and believing in his parishioners.  Of course his way is frowned on by her father.

I’m not sure how much more I can discuss of this book without having spoilers added, just be assured that it is a book that I think everyone could benefit from reading.

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Critical Judgement

Critical JudgementCritical Judgement by Michael Palmer

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book had a really strong start, but just failed to live up to it.

I liked that the main character was female. Unfortunately she wasn’t a very believable one. I don’t think that the author gave her a lot of depth, she was just his puppet to walk the reader through his storyline.

The storyline was weak, and while it started off seeming a bit mysterious it soon became so obvious that reading to the end felt redundant. The supposed twists were hinted at so often that one could only conclude that our otherwise intelligent heroine was purposefully ignoring them.

The love story was so dreadfully lame that I wish the author would have left it out altogether. It was unbelievable that it would have even started, it failed to sizzle once begun, and in the end just made her look weak, and him look dirty.

(view spoiler)

All in all while I enjoyed portions of the book, I wouldn’t recommend it, and I’ll probably re-gift it anonymously.

Barnyard Bully

Barnyard BullyBarnyard Bully by Donna Taylor

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

“The next day after the horses were put out to pasture, Bucky didn’t even offer to run behind Bud and Smokey. What was the point? Jake and he grazed together, while Bud and Smokey grazed on the other side of the pasture.

“Who does he think he is anyway, Smokey?” Bud muttered under his breath. “We were here first! He just can’t come in and change everything.”

“I feel your pain, man. Look at him over there, grazing in our spot with our friend like he owns the place! What a bully,” Smokey whined.”

This book did nothing for me. It wasn’t especially charming, it was completely predictable, and I don’t feel like the lesson on bullying was really one that kids would relate to and learn from. The new horse Jake isn’t the only bully in the story. The other animals were fairly horrible, who would want to be friends with bossy Bud and his weak-willed goons? The “solution” to the bullying wasn’t one that kids would be able to use either, unless the schoolyard gets attacked by wild dogs. I don’t remember having too many life and death situations in my days at grammar school, unless one took a particularly bad spill off of the monkey bars that is.