Purple Hibiscus

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a fictional novel and this years One Maryland One Book. One Maryland One Book was created by Maryland Humanities and the goal is to bring diverse groups together across the state of Maryland to share their experiences reading one book.

Set in Nigeria, fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja live a privileged in Enugu with their highly devout father and mother. Their family is a pillar of the community, they live in a beautiful house, are highly respected and all their needs are taken care of. But life isn’t as charming as it seems from the outside. Their father’s fanatical religious beliefs create a home that is silent, suffocating and even dangerous.

As politics begin to fracture the country from within, Kambili and Jaja escape their home for a short while when they go to visit their aunt and cousins in a small university town outside of Enugu. With their extended family Kambili and Jaja learn that life isn’t all about schedules, school, church and fear. But after a taste of another life, a life of freedom and happiness, will Kambili and Jaja be able to go back to the life they knew?

This is definitely a book that will spark conversations. Purple Hibiscus is charged with so many themes that  you will have your pick to choose from. We see a country charged with violence and unrest; battling beliefs and societal pressures; abuse and family struggles; class struggles and so much more.

This narrative is told through the eyes of fifteen-year-old Kambili, who gives the story an innocent, open air. She comes of age in this novel and we see her grow from a scared naive little girl, into a woman who stands up for herself and will do what she must to keep her fractured family together.

This book was at times hard to read, dealing with sensitive themes and topics. For me the ending left something to be desired, but it was the ending the story needed and in that way it was satisfying.

This would be a good book for a book club and there are a ton of resources to help spur on the conversation at One Maryland One Book. This one gets four stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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Where They Found Her

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight is an adult fictional thriller that takes place in a small well-to-do New Jersey town. In a small town, everyone has an opinion and it can be difficult to hide when all you want to do is blend into the shadows. New to town, freelance journalist, Molly Anderson is trying to begin anew and forget the tragedies of her past. But these tragedies are once again forced into the light when she is assigned a story that starts with a dead baby.

But there is more to this story then meets the eyes and things take surprising turns as past and present collide. Told from the perspective of three very different women this book unwinds a twisting tangled web of hidden truths. Will this small town survive when everyone is forced to look beneath the surface?

This is another book for my book club, so again not my usual go to genre. This actually wasn’t a bad read. One of the really great things about Where They Found Her was that it really did keep you guessing. Every chapter you thought you knew what was what and whodunit and then something would happen and you’d find you weren’t really sure anymore. By the end I knew _________ was part of things somehow but I was actually pretty surprised at the final reveal.

My favorite character in this book is probably Sandy. She is a teenager trying to build herself up even though all the odds are against her. She is a tough, straight shooter and yet she has these moments of fragility that are very human and relatable. I also think she comes out the most changed, in a positive way, after all is said and done.

Another thing I thought this book did well was it’s narrative. The story wasn’t quite linear in it’s telling–it would go backward and forward in time but it a way that felt natural. Jenna’s diary was a really great way to look into the past without getting too much or too little. It was actually really neat to get to know Jenna as a teenager when she is literally missing in the present.

I did think the end wrapped up a little quickly, given that the rest of the story only took place over a matter of days. There were also quite a few, uhh really, moment and a few loose ends I would have liked to seen cleaned up.

This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

The Kitchen House

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom is a historical fiction book that takes place when slavery was prevalent in the south. The story follows two narratives over more than a decade: Lavinia, a white child forced into indentured labor when her parents die on the crossing from Ireland to America; and Bell a young woman and a kitchen slave who is also the illegitimate daughter of the plantation owner.

Lavinia lives and works on the tobacco plantation and soon becomes bonded to her surrogate family; she is so bound to this family that she doesn’t realize the differences in their skin color and what that means. But all is not right with the family she serves. Ms. Martha take laudanum to get through the day, the Captain is never home and although he is good to his slaves, his caretaker, Rankin, is not, and Mr. Marshall, the young master, faces abuse that will mark his whole future.

As Lavinia ages she is soon accepted into this white world she is all but unfamiliar with and finds she must make a choice. Will Lavinia be loyal to her black family or will she adopt the views of the white world she belongs in?

This was a book chosen for my bi-monthly book club. I wasn’t really interested in it at first glance, so I decided to go with the audio book. The audio was done quite well. The narrator did an excellent job and was very believable. The book itself was a fine read and one that would definitely work for a book club.

This book is not for the feint of heart, like most slave narratives there were times when this book was brutal and it definitely didn’t pull any punches.

My biggest problem with the book is that almost all the problems could have been avoid or solved by talking to each other. Yes, this happens all the time in real life but when it happens to this extent in fiction it just bugs me. Especially since the majority of people knew what was going on except for one or two key players. It just didn’t seem realistic to me at times. There were also a few lose ends that were just forgotten about and that irked me too.

This book gets 3.5 stars from me. It was a good read that kept me interested but there were some flaws too. Maybe it’s just because this is not my go to genre but this was just not a the for me.

That’s all for now!

-M-