This book was a journey for me, a loooong road from start to finish. A friend sent it to me in the mail, having not finished it, but thinking I would like to read it. Her disclaimer was that she was reading it while pregnant and due to something that happened to a pregnant woman wasn’t able to read on. I mean, a book about a civil war is going to be a tough read for anyone, but certainly for an expectant mother possibly a steeper hurdle. Also, certainly not a light fluffy pandemic read, but a very interesting historical context (that I knew nothing about) I am glad to have learned about.
I am straight up cribbing this summary from Amazon because it’s been too long since I read it and I’ve slept and had to suffer through 3/4 of a national election since then. This is the story of “Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s. We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor’s beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover’s charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna’s willful twin sister Kainene.”
The narrative jumps back and forth between time periods so that two parts each are devoted to “The Early Sixties” and “The Late Sixties.” But the kicker is, part 1 and 3 are early sixties and 2 and 4 are late sixties. Now, I read this book over about a month of time, putting it down for a bit and picking it up again, and I’m sure that impacted my experience, but this time jump didn’t work for me at all. I honestly didn’t really realize what was happening in that respect. It was only when a character wasn’t present in part 2 that I realized something was up. I then flipped back and forth to try to figure out what I missed, and where the baby was. I was truly stumped, so Googled and then from there sorted it out (note to self, check the front of the book). I guess for me I don’t see what it added to the storytelling, or for the reader, other than confusion. Maybe just a break from the starkness of war? To contrast with the cloud of confusion and hope in the precursor? I’m not sure.
Overall, I’m glad to have read it even though it took me a while, and excited to be dropping it in the mail to someone else who wants to read it.