BOOK REVIEW: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichiePurple Hibiscus
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Completed July 11, 2011

In her debut novel, Chimananda Ngozi Adichie engrosses her reader with the story of 15-year-old Kambili, a young girl living in Nigeria under the abusive rule of her father, Eugene. Kambili and her older brother, Jaja, are forced to live in the strictest of circumstances – punished physically and emotionally for the smallest of infractions – all while their country goes to hell in a handbasket.

The siblings get a reprieve when their Aunty Ifeoma invites them to her house for a holiday. There, Kambili and Jaja see a more loving home where children can make mistakes and express their opinions. It’s an eye-opening stay for them both. It added more rebellion to Jaja’s ways, and it showed Kambili a different kind of Catholicism, led by her friendship with a young priest. When the two returned home, they struggled to live under their father’s oppressive rule.

Let’s talk a moment about Eugene, who I call “Asshole.” A  jerk to his wife and kids, he was the pinnacle of charity to his community, often paying for other children’s education and donating large sums of money to the Church. He also funded the only Nigerian newspaper that spoke out against dictatorship, and his views on democracy were quite enlightened. While his public persona was admirable, his private life was disgusting. The way he treated his wife and children were unforgiveable. Charity begins at home, Asshole.

Don’t let this ugly character dissuade you. Purple Hibiscus is a stunning story.  Adichie is magical in her writing, transporting her readers to Nigeria with just a few sentences. I could smell the flowers, taste the food and see the landscape. She adeptly mixes her native tongue into the dialogue – all without losing the reader. She’s astonishingly talented for such a young woman.

I can’t recommend Purple Hibiscus enough. You will learn a lot about Nigerian culture, and be moved by the story and characters. If you haven’t read stories by Adichie, this is a good place to start. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. (  )


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. BermudaOnion
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 04:18:14

    I love to visit other cultures so this sounds good to me.


  2. Ally
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 18:04:58

    This review makes me realize I should read more books that are not by British writers 🙂


  3. Dee
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 18:16:35

    Great review. I loved Half of a Yellow Sun and The Thing around your Neck so it’s good to hear that this one won’t disappoint!


  4. Deborah F
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 19:13:33

    Great review! I look forward to finding it and reading it!


  5. Aths
    Jul 16, 2011 @ 13:17:18

    This is on my wish list. I really feel like heading out to read this author’s books.


  6. JoV
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 05:56:39

    I thought Half the Yellow Sun was her most notable one but good to hear that this is just as good. In fact I bought a better edition of Half the Yellow Sun in Vintage Canada edition instead of the UK edition. thanks for the review.


  7. Trackback: My Orange July 2011 Reading Wrap-Up « The Magic Lasso
  8. BuriedInPrint
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 04:08:48

    Glad to hear you enjoyed this one so much. I’ve been considering re-reading it as I enjoyed Half the Yellow Sun so much and a couple of short stories alongside. Great stuff!


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