Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Story: In the 1960s, the southeastern provinces of Nigeria attempted to secede and form an independent nation called Biafra. Adichie tells the story of this civil war through the experiences of five characters: a professor who passionately supports the revolution; a teenage houseboy from a rural village; a British transplant who’s fallen in love with Nigeria; and upper-class twin sisters with a stormy relationship.
Writing: Literary but totally accessible. The story is told in third person and switches back and forth between the various characters’ perspectives. The structure is clever—the book starts in the early 1960s, moves to the late 1960s, and then switches back to the early 1960s before finishing with the late 1960s—enabling Adichie to drive readers into a frenzy of curiosity when she hints at “missing” events throughout the middle of the book.
Best thing about it: Half of a Yellow Sun has a great balance of character and plot. Adichie brings the true events of the revolution to life through well-drawn, likable characters. And the creative structure really keeps you guessing.
Worst thing about it: I got nothing. It’s a good read and a beautiful tribute to Adichie’s own family members who lived through the conflict.