A haunting tale of an Africa and an adolescence undergoing tremendous changes by a talented young Nigerian writer. Fifteen-year-old Kambili's world is circumscribed by the high walls of her family compound and the frangipani trees she can see from her bedroom window. Her wealthy Catholic father, although generous and well-respected in the ...
A haunting tale of an Africa and an adolescence undergoing tremendous changes by a talented young Nigerian writer. Fifteen-year-old Kambili's world is circumscribed by the high walls of her family compound and the frangipani trees she can see from her bedroom window. Her wealthy Catholic father, although generous and well-respected in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home. Her life is lived under his shadow and regulated by schedules: prayer, sleep, study, and more prayer. She lives in fear of his violence and the words in her textbooks begin to turn to blood in front of her eyes. When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili's father, involved in mysterious ways with the unfolding political crisis, sends Kambili and her brother away to their aunt's. The house is noisy and full of laughter. Here she discovers love and a life -- dangerous and heathen -- beyond the confines of her father's authority. The visit will lift the silence from her world and, in time, reveal a terrible, bruising secret at the heart of her family life. This first novel is about the promise of freedom; about the blurred lines between the old gods and the new; between childhood and adulthood; between love and hatred. An extraordinary debut, Purple Hibiscus is a compelling novel which captures both a country and an adolescence at a time of tremendous change.
This is a story about a family's deeply hidden secrets that could have happened in any country, at any time. That it happens to a privileged and influential family in Nigeria does not change the compassion one feels for two children and their mother caught in a trap of cruelty. The fact that their oppressor/father believes he is doing what God would want him to do makes the story bone-chilling, and the ending is unexpected. What a wonderful first novel!
Jun 27, 2008
Tragic, but not heavy
One thing that amazes me about Adichie's books is that they include violence, disorder, abuse, but they are never depressing or too heavy to read. Her characters transend their pasts and are extremely dynamic and interesting people.
Told from the point of view of a 15 year old with an oppressivly religious and abuse father, Adichie writes not just about growing up in politically torn Nigeria, but of abused families everywhere. This simple, fast book encomapasses so much - from the bond and rivalries between siblings, the mind-set of an abused mother, and the effects on media of political oppression.
There was a review on the back of the book stating that the character of the father was a portrait of a man who was a pillar of society, but couldn't be there for his family. I disagree with that, I think his role in society was more one of guilt and as a cover-up for his behavior at home.
Apr 10, 2008
After reading Half a Yellow Sun, I just had to read more by this author. Purple Hibiscus is a well-written, compelling, and impactful look into the effect ovezealous religion can have on a family. While the story takes place in Nigeria, I believe it reaches across cultural divides in a way very few authors have the talent to do.
Aug 3, 2007
A Brillian Debut
From the first page, one expects tragedy, but the one that is finally revealed, though foreshadowed throughout, is somehow unexpected.
Adichie develops layer upon layer or tragedy; yet, Purple Hibiscus is not a funeral dirge in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a beautifully nuanced wake for the family and the Nigeria that could have been.
Delightful, heartfelt, wholly African, and wholly unexpected from a then-debutante to the literary world.
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