A haunting tale of an Africa and an adolescence undergoing tremendous changes from the talented bestseller and award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 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 ...
A haunting tale of an Africa and an adolescence undergoing tremendous changes from the talented bestseller and award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 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.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-08-18 By turns luminous and horrific, this debut ensnares the reader from the first page and lingers in the memory long after its tragic end. First-person narrator Kambili Achike is a 15-year-old Nigerian girl growing up in sheltered privilege in a country ravaged by political strife and personal struggle. She and her brother, Jaja, and their quiet mother, who speaks "the way a bird eats, in small amounts," live this life of luxury because Kambili's father is a wealthy man who owns factories, publishes a politically outspoken newspaper and outwardly leads the moral, humble life of a faithful Catholic. The many grateful citizens who have received his blessings and material assistance call him omelora, "The One Who Does for the Community." Yet Kambili, Jaja and their mother see a side to their provider no one else does: he is also a religious fanatic who regularly and viciously beats his family for the mildest infractions of his interpretation of an exemplary Christian life. The children know better than to discuss their home life with anyone else; "there was so much that we never told." But when they are unexpectedly allowed to visit their liberated and loving Aunty Ifeoma, a widowed university professor raising three children, family secrets and tensions bubble dangerously to the surface, setting in motion a chain of events that allow Kambili to slowly blossom as she begins to question the authority of the precepts and adults she once held sacred. In a soft, searing voice, Adichie examines the complexities of family, faith and country through the haunted but hopeful eyes of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood. Lush, cadenced and often disconcerting, this is an accomplished first effort. Author tour. (Oct. 17) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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