Yellow Hibiscus (Book Review)

  • Author: Tope Omotosho
  • Publisher: Leverage Publishing
  • Available Now
  • Synopsis: Isimeme, a chef from humble beginnings, entrusts her romantic future to God.
  • Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the ebook from the author. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scripture Connection

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

Gal. 5:25

Galatians 5:25 is not included as the verse before the start of the novel (that’s Psalm 16:11), but it is quoted in the book, and I feel that it is an excellent summation of the point of the book.

Spiritual Themes

Omotosho focuses on trusting God, not merely for the sake of blind obedience, but because He gives good gifts to His children. This is an important distinction, and I am glad that the author makes the point of emphasizing this nuance. After all, part of trusting God is believing that He does reward those who earnestly seek Him (Heb. 11:6). Omotosho also cites Jesus’ words about giving good gifts to His children (see Matthew 7, Luke 11). Yes, we trust God even when we don’t understand (which we see demonstrated in the lives of Isimeme and Adeniran), but there is also clear Scriptural basis as to God’s intentions for us, and the relationship between daughtership and receiving good from Him. I appreciate that the author showed both sides of this: the need for trust, but also the evidence that God has good for His children.

Purity, one of my favorite themes, also plays a key role in the narrative, and I really enjoyed how that played out.

What I Liked

This was the third book I’ve finished reading by the author, and the second book in the Flower series. Because I read book one in the same series, I really enjoyed returning to the same characters and “catching up” with them. In addition to the fact that Omotosho writes realistic, believable characters, I really like how her books are set up, in terms of perspective. Book two features the same cast of characters as book one (with introductions of minor characters), but this time, the stars of book one are secondary or peripheral. And the characters starring in book two were more secondary, albeit interesting, in book one. Likewise, it looks like book three will feature a main character who we’ve heard a bit about, but whose perspective we haven’t seen, yet.

Isimeme, the protagonist of book two, is one of the side characters in book one, and I was looking forward to reading her story. Isimeme is a character that I both respected and related to. I was so proud of her commitment not to kiss any man before her wedding, and I also liked that she shared some of my interests as a reader who enjoys cute romance stories.

At the same time, and significantly, Yellow Hibiscus does not fall under the category of cute, but shallow, romance stories. The main characters are committed to following God’s leading, regardless of the cost. Rather than being a “touchy feely” story, Yellow Hibiscus exemplifies commitment in a romantic relationship: first to God, then to one another– even when the feelings aren’t there.

Favorite Quote

As a believer in falling in love (not the headlong fall because you were walking blindly and not watching your footsteps, but falling in the sense of surrendering her will and choice to God and accepting His choice of a partner for her) she believed in growing to love a person– because love grew stronger with time.

p. 18

Content Notes

In the context of teasing and harassment, there are a few instances of innuendos. These are not portrayed positively, but instead show how society responds to the character’s commitment to walk with the Lord in sexual purity. While I didn’t enjoy reading these moments, I did feel that they contributed to the story, in terms of realism.

On a personal level, I’ve experienced the feeling of discomfort and being the odd one out, when others are making inappropriate jokes. For this reason, I found these moments in the story to be somewhat comforting. It’s clear that what is happening is happening outside of Isimeme. It isn’t her fault and doesn’t change her character.

With this in mind, I think that other readers, especially those in their twenties/thirties (Isimeme is in her early thirties), may also take comfort in remembering that their experience is not isolated and that being surrounded by sin, by no choice of our own, is not the same as partaking in sin. (See 1 Cor. 5:10, about how we would have to leave the world to be away from sin).

There was at least one instance of “g-z.”

Recommendation Status

The target audience for Yellow Hibiscus is Christian readers, and this particular title is not one that I would recommend to nonChristians. Unlike other books by the author, which have more “transformational” moments, this one is more about what it looks like to trust in, and walk with, God on an everyday basis. In this book, I especially enjoyed revisiting the cast of characters, who are becoming quite real to me.

I would recommend the title for Christian women, especially those in their twenties and thirties.

Published by Stephaniesninthsuitcase

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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