Anna Hibiscus

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Book Review

Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke is the first book in the “Anna Hibiscus” series. Anna, an African girl, learns how her customs, experiences, prosperity and family life make her unique.

Plot Summary

Anna Hibiscus has an African father and a Canadian mother. The three of them, as well as Anna’s twin baby brothers, live in a compound with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. The family members lovingly help each other raise their families and share the workload. Anna can hardly believe her mother grew up in a home with just two parents.

Anna’s parents decide to rent a beach house so their immediate family can vacation. Her parents are initially eager to enjoy time away from the crowd. Soon, the twins start throwing fits, and Anna’s parents grow exhausted.

Little by little, Anna’s father brings the whole extended family to the beach to join them. The aunts cook, sing, watch the babies and joke with Anna’s mother. The uncles keep her father company, and the grandparents settle disputes. The family reminds Anna’s parents why it isn’t good to be alone and why it’s better to help each other.

Then Anna learns her Auntie Comfort is coming to visit. Auntie Comfort lives in America now and hasn’t been back to Africa in years. Grandfather is thrilled to learn of her visit, but he worries she will have forgotten all of the traditions and customs of their people.

When Auntie Comfort finally arrives, it is clear she has managed to stay true to her African heritage while embracing her life in America. Everyone is relived. She does wear a bikini rather than more modest African swimwear at the beach, but the grandparents aren’t there to see it.

Anna is bored one day and sees girls selling oranges on the street. She decides to do it, too, not realizing how much these girls need the money to feed their families. She brings oranges from home that are much fresher than the ones the girls can offer and ends up stealing all of their customers. When Grandfather learns what she’s done, he takes her back to sell more oranges and repay the money the girls lost the previous day.

In the final chapter, Anna talks about her obsession with snow to anyone who will listen. No one in her African family has ever seen it. Anna is excited when her Canadian grandmother invites her to visit but disappointed to learn the trip will take place in summer. Anna’s uncle encourages her to write a secret letter to Granny Canada. In it, Anna mentions how much she would like to see snow. Granny Canada writes back and invites her for Christmas instead. Anna is overjoyed, and her African family rejoices with her.

Christian Beliefs

The whole family attends church on Sundays, all wearing clothes made from the same traditional fabric to indicate they belong together. Grandfather praises God when he learns his daughter, who lives in America, is coming for a visit.

Other Belief Systems

None

Authority Roles

Anna’s father is African and her mother is Canadian. Since they reside with her father’s large family, Anna lives among aunts, uncles and grandparents. Everyone lovingly works together for the good of the whole family. Grandfather teaches Anna to respect and help the poor in her community.

Profanity & Violence

None

Sexual Content

A cartoon illustration shows Auntie Comfort swimming, wearing a somewhat revealing bikini top. Others wear the more modest African swimwear at the beach.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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