…because this is Africa, and Africa can be like this.

Precocious and empathetic, Anna Hibiscus is your typical little girl living a relatively privileged life in an unspecific African nation.  She loves playing with her many cousins and  her twin brothers, Double and Trouble. She likes to climb into a mango tree to eat its sweet fruit. And, she wants desperately to see snow. Her stories present a number of issues from the light-hearted look at stage fright or the visiting aunt who now lives in America to the heavier, but age-appropriate treatment of poverty, hunger, and disability.

I really appreciate the author’s affinity to family. In the opening story of the first collection, Anna Hibiscus, her immediate family goes on holiday to the beach. Away from their extended family who are back in their compound, loneliness sets in and soon they find themselves summoning a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents to join them. 

Traditional African women and girls braid and weave their hair. That is how such thick and curly hair stays shiny and  beautiful and neat, with no chemicals whatsoever.

My absolute favorite story is from the second collection, Hooray for Anna Hibiscus. Anna Hibiscus dislikes the pulling and tugging routine of the “Saturday weaving aunties” (hair braiders) but her grandmother lets her learn the hard way that it’s necessary to keep her hair healthy.

Anna Hibiscus is a fun, sweet character to fall in love with and one I certainly wish I could have gotten to know in my own childhood. Her Africa is one that Nigerian born author, Atinuke, gives permission to be beautiful, sweet, picturesque, lovely.

Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
112 pp
paperback
Kane Miller EDC Publishing
September 1, 2010
Children's fiction
ISBN: 9781935279730

Hooray for Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
112 pp
paperback
Kane Miller EDC Publishing
September 1, 2010
Children's fiction
ISBN: 9781935279747

Many thanks to the publishers for sharing the first two collections of Anna Hibiscus with me.

Challenges:
African Diaspora
POC Reading
 
 
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Dinaw Mengestu's 2007 debut novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears gives a thoughtful yet, melancholic look at the isolated life of an Ethiopian immigrant running a fledgling neighborhood grocery in D.C. Sepha Stephanos fled Ethiopia nearly twenty years prior to escape the Ethiopian revolution. He struggles with his ceaseless desire to return to his home country and his indifferent existence in America. His rundown store also serves as meeting place for him and two fellow African immigrants who pass the time naming coups and dictators of the various African nations. Things appear to be on an upswing as his neighborhood is in the beginnings of gentrification. The first home to be renovated, which he describes as "a beautiful, tragic wreck of a building," is purchased by Judith, a white woman who's an academic and has a biracial 11 year old daughter. Sepha and Judith engage in this awkward flirtation while he forms a bond with her daughter as they read Dostoevsky in his store.  Even his budding friendship with Judith's daughter falls into a formulaic routine. Sepha's observations of the lunchtime crowd in and around his neighborhood make their daily routine appear as monotonous as his. His fellow immigrant friends have similarly vacant existences. One is stuck waiting tables as they all once did in the same hotel all those years later and the other has "made it" as a well paid engineer but even he cannot let go of his past and works constantly to ignore his present. None of them are really present in their current lives in America. Mengestu often uses the word "beautiful" to describe things that are not necessarily so as Sepha does to appease his friend about a newly acquired used Saab which is anything but beautiful. To the friend, it was his; he earned the money to buy it and that made it beautiful. As the title suggests, which comes from a line in Dante's Inferno, Sepha will eventually emerge from his own hell and discover the beautiful things that heaven bears. While it has spots that lull, there are also spots that are moving and spots that are heartbreaking. Mengestu's novel is very quiet and subtle in its approach and I actually enjoyed that. This was a strong debut from a skillful writer. I'm e that he's a voice for my generation.


Challenges
POC Reading
African Diaspora


 
 
Update the final...
Sunday, 11:27 am CST

I crashed and burned around 1:30 this morning. I thought I might nap and come back the last two or three hours but, that didn't happen. This was just not a good readathon for me. I was tired and stressed and had my impending school work on my mind. I'll have it together like previous readathons the next go 'round.  On the positive, I enjoyed everything I read.

Total books read: 3
Total pages read: 454
Hours spent reading: about 12


Update the first...
8:30 pm CST

So, I started with Anna Hibiscus and adored it. I went to my literary fiction choice next and things slowed down. The book was a great read, but I just can't zoom through literary fiction and The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears deserved a thorough reading. Yes, reviews are indeed pending.

I was also disrupted by the Mr. and his sometimes nonsensical shananigans which cost me two hours. I will not go into detail because I'm peeved and it's ruining my groove. Anywho, on to Hooray for Anna Hibiscus then Catching Fire.

Books read: 2
Pages read: 338
Hours spent reading: about 10


It's that time again for some serious reading. I know, I usually proclaiming it's time to read "hardcore" but, I have some family time obligations that might distract me some today. Anyway, I will not be completely deterred from reading throughout the day. My updates may be inconsistent here but, I'll also chatter a bit on Twitter (@browngirlspeaks). So
far, here's what I plan to read:

Catching Fire by Suzanne Colins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
Hooray for Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu

I've got my eggs boiling to get my protein and I have a green smoothie ready. I hope that'll give me some energy because I'm quite tired. Off I go...

Happy readathon!
 
 
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For those participating in the African Diaspora Reading Challenge, this is where you can link to your fourth quarter (October-December) reviews. If you don't have a blog, you can add reviews to LibraryThing as it permalinks each member's review. This is how we'll format links: enter link title as your blog name (book title), i.e. BrownGirl BookSpeak (The Wife of His Youth). 



This is the last leg of the challenge everyone! As promised, I'll have a prize for a randomly selected participant sometime in December. I'll choose in time for a little holiday happy.


Challenge Sign Up
Book Suggestions
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter