abuse · book review · Family · reading · secrets

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie {Review}

Blurb:

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They’re completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home—a home that is silent and suffocating.

As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s authority. Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins’ laughter rings throughout the house. When they return home, tensions within the family escalate, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together.

Review:

This is the second novel I have read by Adichie and because I enjoyed Americanah so much, I had very high hopes for this story. I was not disappointed. In fact, I was even more blown away with her beautiful prose and style of writing.

This story is told from the perspective of a fifteen year old girl named Kambili. She is the daughter of a well to do businessman and a religious fanatic. From the outside, the world believes that Kambili, her older brother Jaja, and her mother live the perfect life of happiness. In reality, their home life is everything but that. Kambili’s father has horrifying standards for his family and they often pay in pain when they disappoint him.

Although I did like the story being told by Kambili, there were moments when I wanted to get Jaja’s perspective on what they were going thru especially when they went to visit their aunt, Ifeoma.

Adichie draws you in and forces you to connect to her characters in such a way that you don’t even realize it’s happening. The story flows at a remarkable pace. The dynamic nature between the characters is astounding. I admit when I first started reading this story, I didn’t think I would connect with Kambili and I thought her character wouldn’t develop like it did.

Reading this story and seeing what Kambili and her family went thru, broke my heart in many ways. This story makes you think about how an outside perspective can often cause disillusionment when it comes to someone’s life and what they may be dealing with or going through. You also think about how much you are willing to take or deal with when it comes to your loved ones. How much you are willing to sacrifice. Does being a religious figure or devout believer really separate you from those you believe to beneath you for being non believers when you aren’t living as perfectly as you think?

I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Adichie. I still can’t believe that this was her debut novel.

This book was the first of my backlist buddy read that I’m hosting on Instagram this year.

Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio.

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abuse · book review · books · Family · secrets · suspense

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen

Blurb:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Review:

I bought this book during one of my impulse book buying sprees back in August and had been itching to read it because the storyline caught my attention. Needless to say I was pretty excited that my local book club decided to read it for our October book.

 The first thing that caught my attention with this novel was the style of writing. I loved the prose and how the story just flowed on the pages. Delia’s style of writing is lovely on its own, but the added poetry throughout made it even better. This is one of those stories that you just can’t help but fall in love with because you can feel what the characters are going thru and you want everything to work out for them.

 Kya experiences so much heartache at a young age. She witnesses and experiences the abuse of her father and she is slowly abandoned by each of her family members. When she tries to go to school she is bullied by the children and in town she is treated unfairly by the adults who assume she is nothing more than swamp trash instead of trying to help her. Kya has to learn how to fend for herself. She has to cook, clean, shop, and grow into her womanhood.

 As Kya grows older, she develops a fascination with nature that is hard to describe. She starts a collection of items that eventually helps her survive. Kya seems to be alone but she isn’t. She develops a friendship with Jumpin’ and his wife Mabel. She also develops a beautiful friendship with Tate. I loved the relationship that Kya and Tate have even though things don’t play out the way that they would have if Kya wasn’t considered swamp trash.

 After Kya learns to open up and trust, she is hurt again. Unfortunately this hurt makes her a vulnerable target for local heartthrob, football star Chase Andrews. I did not like anything about Chase from the beginning and hate to say that he deserved what became of him. He was a pretentious jerk.

 This is a story about abandonment, abuse, racial and class prejudice, and love. All of these tie together as a child grows up and a murder has to be solved.

 Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook

abuse · book review · books · Family · secrets

Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden {Review}

Goodreads Blurb:

Abeo Kata lives a comfortable, happy life in West Africa as the privileged nine-year-old daughter of a government employee and stay-at-home mother. But when the Katas’ idyllic lifestyle takes a turn for the worse, Abeo’s father, following his mother’s advice, places her in a religious shrine, hoping that the sacrifice of his daughter will serve as religious atonement for the crimes of his ancestors. Unspeakable acts befall Abeo for the fifteen years she is enslaved within the shrine. When she is finally rescued, broken and battered, she must struggle to overcome her past, endure the revelation of family secrets, and learn to trust and love again.

In the tradition of Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, Praise Song for the Butterflies is a contemporary story that offers an educational, eye-opening account of the practice of ritual servitude in West Africa. Spanning decades and two continents, Praise Song for the Butterflies will break and heal your heart.

Review:

I requested this novel after reading about it in an article on Facebook mentioning books to look forward to. Once I read the plot, I knew I would like it. I didn’t know how much it would intrigue me and keep me glued to its pages. This was a one sitting read for myself and I’m glad that I picked a long weekend to read it even if it only took me 2 hours to read it.

The opening of the story is so intense, but it does not prepare you for what is to come for the rest of the story. This is a story about love, abuse, sacrifice, and pain, and the path to healing.

Abeo is a young happy girl in Africa living what seems to be the perfect life with her family. They are wealthy, and they don’t need for much. Abeo’s family is visited by her Aunt Serafine who lives in the United States. Abeo’s life is easy even when her father is suspended from work. When Abeo’s grandfather dies and her grandmother comes to live with them, Abeo’s life begins to change in a way she does not see coming. Abeo’s grandmother believes and convinces her son to believe that Abeo is the reason for all their misfortune. She convinces him to basically give his daughter up to slavery to make his life better. This is not something he discusses with his wife. He just takes his child and leaves her in the hands of the devil himself and never looks back. Abeo was 9 years old.

At first Abeo’s mother is overcome with rage but she eventually comes around because she believes that it is her duty to follow behind the decision of her husband. For a while, life without Abeo starts to get better and her parents are convinced that the right decision was made. Soon enough, the luck runs out. Abeo’s mother dies. She dies before she ever sees her daughter again.

While the Kata’s are living their newly enhanced life, Abeo is living a life of hell. A life that she was thrown into without ever knowing why. She is a slave along with other young girls whose families have thrown them into the life of being a trokosi. They are beaten, fed enough to keep them alive and raped. Abeo must endure this for much of her childhood and the early part of her adult life. She doesn’t know anything about her family or their whereabouts. She just knows that this is the life her father has left her to. Abeo does try to escape but fails to no end. She takes beatings and soon must endure a constant stream of rape.

Finally, a woman name Taylor moves to Africa and opens a sanctuary and begins rescuing girls from the life of being a trokosi. Abeo is one of the women who is rescued but not after enduring the death of her son.

After Abeo is rescued, she must learn to love again and to function again in the real world. She is also reunited with who is left of her family. She learns of her mother’s death and she also learn her family’s other secret which will have a significant impact on her life.

Although this is a story of fiction, it is a story that needs to be told and put out into the world because this is happening everyday just like human trafficking. This story had me feeling so many emotions all at one time. I could not even keep up. I was angry, sad, happy, hurt, devastated. All of those within the two-hour time it took me to read it. I am still feeling those emotions even the next day. This story is going to stick with me for quite some time and I would actually want to look further into this heinous practice and see what it is I may be able to do to become more educated about it and lend my help.

I really loved the significance of the butterflies. You will have to read the book to see what I am talking about.

There are definitely some trigger warnings that come with this novel. It is not for the faint of heart.

I received this book in exchange of an honest review.

Rating:

5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in paperback, hardcover, ebook and audiobook

book review · books

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman {Review}

If you have read and enjoyed Fredrick Backman’s Britt Marie Was Here, I think you would enjoy this novel by Gail Honeyman.

Goodreads Blurb:

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. All this means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner.

My Review:

I received this book thru my Book of the Month subscription for December and it was my first pick from my TBR jar that I have dedicated to this year’s  Unread Shelf Project. What attracted me to this novel was my thought that it was so similar to the above mentioned novel by Fredrick Backman. I recently read Britt Marie Was Here and thoroughly enjoyed it.

In Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, you meet a 30 year old woman who is basically living the life of a 65 year old grandma. If her age was not mentioned you could imagine her as an uptight old lady. To be such a young woman, she is a creature of routine and habit. You can’t help but laugh at her ways from time to time. The more serious she is, the funnier her situation seems, until you learn about her past.

Eleanor survived a horrific fire during her childhood but as a result of it, she had to grow up in the foster care system. She does not have any friends, she is socially awkward, and her life is controlled indirectly by her mother. As the story progresses, you learn to love Eleanor and cheer for her from your reading spot because she attempts to make changes in her routine even if at first it is only because she is preparing to meet the love of her life. She steps into the world of technology and the world of beauty. I think her experience with waxing was my favorite funny part.

Even with her attempts to make changes, Eleanor’s life takes a near devastating turn. She then has to learn how to love herself and accept the love and friendship of others.

This is a quick, quirky read but is full of life. This book subtly addresses alcoholism and child abuse. It also touches on mental health and help.

I gave this novel 4.5 stars. It is available now.

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All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood [review]


I said that I was going to do this review last week, but I have to admit I am just now able to get off the emotional rollercoaster that I was thrown on during and after reading this book. Where do I begin? Aha, how about the beginning. I promise to try not to give away too much information because I want people to read and experience this book on their own.
 

The story begins when a young Wavy is sent to live with her family after her mother is sent away to jail. Wavy is not your typical child. She shows signs immediately that prove she has not had a childhood filled with rainbows and ribbons. She doesn’t eat, talk or liked to be touched. It takes time for her to eventually let her own grandmother touch her and that is not until her grandmother is dying from cancer and even then she doesn’t let others see her interact with her grandmother. Wavy’s aunt and uncle do not know how to care for her, nor do they try to understand her.

 From what I gathered, Wavy’s mother seemed to be passive aggressive, even OCD when it comes to germs. She is also a drug addict and probably suffers from anxiety and depression. Don’t even get me started on her “father”. I put that in quotations because as far as I am concerned that meth making organism didn’t deserve to be called her father.

 When Wavy’s mother gets out of jail, Wavy goes back to live with her. Her mother does okay by her and her new baby brother for only a short time. Soon enough, “dad” shows back up and convinces Wavy’s mother to come back to him.

 After going back to the house on the farm, Wavy is thrown into the role as caretaker for her brother. Soon Wavy encounters Kellen. They relationship that they start building is odd. He becomes her caretaker of sorts. Making sure that the house is clean and that there is food in the house. He also makes sure that Wavy gets to school and even meets with her teacher. Wavys’s mother is in her own world of depression and drugs. Wavy’s “father” is only concerned with his business, women, and his image.

 Wavy begins to finally experience feelings that she has never felt before when she is dealing with Kellen. Kellen also reciprocates these feelings back to Wavy as she grows older. Wavy slowly comes out of her shell around Kellen. He provides the love and nurturing that her parents never gave her and a little more. Eventually, as Wavy gets older these feelings they have for each other develop into more and cause a ruckus in their lives.

 That is where is will stop with the “synopsis” review and bring you to how this book made me feel.

 I gave this book 5 stars before I was finished with it. I could not put it down. I was drawn in and it kept my attention even when things started getting weird. I highly recommend this book and I am quite upset that my book club has not read this book yet. I have voted for it every time it is one of our contenders and it has not won. I am so glad that I decided to read it on my own after having owned it several months, both the ebook and the hardcover. I felt so many emotions while reading this story. I did not want it to end. This is not a story that is meant to put you in the “feel good” moments of life. It will make you uncomfortable and make you think about what you would do in situations. We all say what we would do, but would we really do it? Although fiction, this story is REAL life. This story is something that is happening every day in our world. This is definitely an ugly, but wonderful story.