Book Review–Seeds of Plenty by Jennifer Juo


This is the 75th book from my 200 Book Reading Challenge.

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Seeds of Yesterday by Jennifer Juo
Published May 28th, 2013


Sylvia Soong, a young Chinese woman, finds herself in a rusty-tin roof town of West Africa, where the jungle meets the savannah and spirits cavort in baobab trees. In 1972, she marries Winston Soong, an aid worker on his way to Africa. But life in Africa is not the adventure she imagined. Instead, Sylvia spends her days in their white tiled house trapped behind compound walls.

Even though she longs for companionship, it arrives in an unwelcome form. She soon discovers she is not alone: spirit children prey on her newborn’s life, and when her daughter is bitten by a snake, she meets Ayo, an African-English doctor who provides a window into a world previously out of reach. While Sylvia is increasingly drawn to Ayo, Winston travels the countryside bearing miracle seeds that promise to triple harvests. Yet as he works with village farmers, he begins to wonder if the seeds do more harm than good.

When a juju witch casts a spell on Winston’s life, he is caught in a trap, and the forest canopy suddenly seems claustrophobic. As the country becomes increasingly violent, dangerous forces threaten all of their lives. Set against the troubled and mesmerizing landscape of Nigeria, SEEDS OF PLENTY paints a vivid portrait of a country in transformation, rooted in a magical and menacing past full of bush-souls, python-mermaid spirits, military coups, juju black magic, airport pirates, and sacred forests. Chinese and West African spiritual beliefs collide in this richly imagined story about love that crosses oceans, identity that spans continents, and well-intentioned development aid gone wrong.


I won a signed copy of Seeds of Plenty from the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program. Many thanks to the publisher/author for giving me the chance to read and review this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.

This one sounded really intriguing from the synopsis, and I was not disappointed. The story captivated me from page one to the very end. But, really, it’s really the characters that make this story awesome.

The story is told from alternating POVs of Winston and Sylvia, a Chinese married couple who move to Nigeria so Winston can make a difference. The author did a great job at making the characters three-dimensional. I enjoyed reading from both point-of-views because it did such a great job at telling the story. I really liked that the couple genuinely tried to help others less fortunate than themselves. I especially liked Sylvia, Patience, and Simeon.

The culture and customs are very rich in this book–I feel like I’ve learned a lot. It all felt very realistic. I like that the author used dialect to make it feel more real to readers. I really enjoyed the setting–t was so well written that I sometimes felt like I was there. The writing itself is fantastic. I did happen to stumble on a few errors, but nothing that detracted me from the story.

The only thing that I disliked about this book, really, was the overall ending of the book. It just felt a little off to me.

Other than that, I recommend this one, especially if you enjoy learning about other cultures or want a book that will touch your soul. I will definitely be on the lookout for more books by this author.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.




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