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A previously published edition of ISBN 9781616202415 can be found here. Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They're completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, A previously published edition of ISBN 9781616202415 can be found here. Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They're completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home—a home that is silent and suffocating. As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s authority. Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins’ laughter rings throughout the house. When they return home, tensions within the family escalate, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together. Purple Hibiscus is an exquisite novel about the emotional turmoil of adolescence, the powerful bonds of family, and the bright promise of freedom.


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A previously published edition of ISBN 9781616202415 can be found here. Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They're completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, A previously published edition of ISBN 9781616202415 can be found here. Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They're completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home—a home that is silent and suffocating. As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s authority. Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins’ laughter rings throughout the house. When they return home, tensions within the family escalate, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together. Purple Hibiscus is an exquisite novel about the emotional turmoil of adolescence, the powerful bonds of family, and the bright promise of freedom.

30 review for Purple Hibiscus

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ebony

    I was biased towards Adichie as an excellent writer because that’s what people said. It wasn’t the book I originally was going to read by her but it was her first so naturally, I thought I would start at the beginning. I felt so oppressed reading the book but then I realized that was her genius. She never said the word oppression. For the first two-thirds of the book, she never described pain, but all the details made me feel like something was terribly wrong not just at home but also in the cou I was biased towards Adichie as an excellent writer because that’s what people said. It wasn’t the book I originally was going to read by her but it was her first so naturally, I thought I would start at the beginning. I felt so oppressed reading the book but then I realized that was her genius. She never said the word oppression. For the first two-thirds of the book, she never described pain, but all the details made me feel like something was terribly wrong not just at home but also in the country. The oppressive regime. The oppressive father. The oppressive religion. The oppressive heat. It sounds like a depressing story, but it’s not. A teenager finds her voice. She learns to laugh. She learns to run and play in a place where purple hibiscus grows. The balance is so joyous despite all of the terrible events that aren’t articulated but are still felt by the reader as if one were reading every word. I dug this book even though I didn’t understand most of what was going on. I’ve never been to Nigeria. I couldn’t pronounce any of the Igbo. I know little to nothing of the country’s history, language, and culture and I loved that she didn’t introduce me. It wasn’t a welcome to my world story; it was a slice of life that left it up to me to fit into her character’s lives. I enjoyed doing the work. There are no literary flaws. The plot turns on a sentence. Tight. Concise. Complex characters. I loved the auntie because I wanted to be like her. I was curious about Jaja. I hated the Mom, but I sympathized with her. I hated the father more, but he was speaking truth for the country against the leadership and he fed so many people and he loved his family the best way he knew how, kind of. He was breaking them because he was broken. I understood why Kambili wanted to make him proud. He was cruel like the white men who had trained him were cruel. So much powerful stuff though such parsimonious words. So much feels so inaccessible for the main characters and for me and yet their narrative is so beautiful because of its simplicity. Not the thin volume kind of simplicity, but the carefully crafted simplicity that great writing is made of.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tea Jovanović

    Wonderful book... Among the top 20 that I've signed as editor... Wonderful book... Among the top 20 that I've signed as editor...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    I have really enjoyed reading Purple Hibiscus by Nigerian born writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. An admirer of her compatriot, the writer Chinua Achebe, who wrote, amongst other things, Things fall apart, she begins her novel with the words : “Things started to fall apart at home…” Even if the use of these words is purely coincidental, they provide a very apt summary of what is going to happen during the following 300 pages. The story is narrated by 15 year old Kambili. She and her brother Ja Ja ar I have really enjoyed reading Purple Hibiscus by Nigerian born writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. An admirer of her compatriot, the writer Chinua Achebe, who wrote, amongst other things, Things fall apart, she begins her novel with the words : “Things started to fall apart at home…” Even if the use of these words is purely coincidental, they provide a very apt summary of what is going to happen during the following 300 pages. The story is narrated by 15 year old Kambili. She and her brother Ja Ja are the children of Eugene, a wealthy industrialist living in the town of Enugu. Their father, who can best be described as a religious fanatic/nutcase, loves them dearly but needs them to conform to his every ambition for them. Thus, coming second in class rather than, is worse than failing completely. The tale begins soon after there has been a coup in Nigeria. Eugene, who edits a newspaper that refuses to kowtow to anyone, employs an editor, whose critical writing attracts the fatal attention of the new regime’s hit men. His death does nothing to ease the stress he always imposes on himself, and this in turn causes him to punish his children excessively to the point of causing them serious injury. At times he behaves like a Crusader, defending the faith of his own children by resorting to cruelties, which seem totally incompatible with the parental affection, which he always professes after inflicting a terrible punishment. Aunty Ifeoma, Eugene’s widowed sister, lives and teaches at a university in Nsukka. She has three children, is also Christian, but has a far more easy-going approach to religion than her brother. For example, her children are allowed to watch television when the erratic power supply allows, and are also permitted to see, to spend time with, her and Eugene’s father, Papa-Nnukwu, who lives in Abba. Eugene and Ifeoma’s father is not Christian, and has no desire become one. When, early in the book, Aunty Ifeoma takes Eugene’s children to see their grandfather, Kambili and Ja Ja are reluctant to get out of the car to greet him because, as Kambili explains: “… Papa-Nnukwu is a pagan.” Ifeoma refutes this by saying that he is not a pagan but a “…traditionalist.” Eugene, who will have nothing to do with his father apart from sending him money, is not pleased that his children have had contact with a pagan, even this special one. Against his better judgement, Eugene allows his sister to take his children to spend a few days in her home in Nsukka. On this first visit, Kambili and Jaja are like fish out of water in Ifeoma’s home. Ifeoma, who is a no nonsense, larger than life, open-hearted person, lives in a crowded book-filled flat - a complete contrast to the orderly home in which Eugene and his family live. Kambili’s cousins regard her and her brother as oddities, and the reverse is true. Ja Ja begins to adapt to the new environment, but Kambili, fearing her father’s disapproval, fights against adapting. Enter Father Amadi. He is a new member of the chaplaincy of the University of Nsukka, young and attractive. He dresses casually and is a frequent visitor at Aunty Ifeoma’s house. When he first meets Eugene’s children, and says: “Nsukka has its charms”, Kambili thinks that he has: “… a singer’s voice, a voice that had the same effect on my ears that Mama working Pears baby oil into my hair had on my scalp.” And thus begins her infatuation with a man who has taken the vow of celibacy. Kambili’s first visit to Nsukka is brief, but is the first of many for a variety of reasons, which I will not disclose to spoil the book for those intending to read it. The more informal, even though materially more difficult, life in Nsukka provides Kambili with an increasingly more attractive contrast to the rigid, but more affluent, life that she and her brother lead in Enugu. As the political situation impinges more on Eugene’s life, the environment and atmosphere in his sister’s home in Nsukka becomes increasingly appealing to Kambili, as does the prospect of seeing Father Amadi. Gently and beautifully, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche describes the downfall of the family both in Enugu and in Nsukka, drawing us gradually towards an extraordinarily tragic ending. In unfolding her story, she introduces the reader to the customs, foods, and many other aspects of Nigerian life without, as so many writers tend to do, making her narrative seem like a series of chapters of a book, which might be titled something like “Introduction to Nigeria”. Read The Purple Hibiscus. You won’t regret it! PS: Throughout the book the author refers to the 'Igbo' language. I have only just found out that 'Igbo' is another spelling of 'Ibo' or 'Ebo' (and they all refer to an important Nigerian ethnic group).

  4. 4 out of 5

    emma

    Have you ever been reading a book and you're just sort of coasting along, mostly enjoying it but not really getting much out of it, thinking "huh, I wonder when the plot will start," and then suddenly the book is over? No? Well that was me reading this book. And it's not like it was character-driven. I love me a character-driven book. Nothing makes me feel smarter and more entertained. It's like going to coffee with a friend you haven't seen in a long time so you have ALL the fun stuff to catch up Have you ever been reading a book and you're just sort of coasting along, mostly enjoying it but not really getting much out of it, thinking "huh, I wonder when the plot will start," and then suddenly the book is over? No? Well that was me reading this book. And it's not like it was character-driven. I love me a character-driven book. Nothing makes me feel smarter and more entertained. It's like going to coffee with a friend you haven't seen in a long time so you have ALL the fun stuff to catch up on. Anyway. While I was reading this, I simultaneously somehow didn't feel like I knew or cared about any of the characters, so that'd be a bust. This was just pretty meh for me, unfortunately. Bottom line: What's to like! ---------------------- pre-review the rare occasion in which i, the world's leading advocate of short books, will say that this should have been at least 100 pages longer. review to come / 2 stars ---------------------- tbr review my brain is in shambles at this red book with purple in the title

  5. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Toward the end of Purple Hibiscus, it occurred to me that the character of Papa could be a metaphor for Nigeria and Kambili, the sheltered, naïve young daughter of a wealthy businessman, the Nigerian people. Papa, gifted with an intelligence that holds so much potential, instead wields his power with the cruel, unsparing hand of a megalomaniacal dictator. He crushes, but does not defeat, the spirit of his hopeful, innocent daughter. Adichie is such a master of character ambiguity. It is easy to Toward the end of Purple Hibiscus, it occurred to me that the character of Papa could be a metaphor for Nigeria and Kambili, the sheltered, naïve young daughter of a wealthy businessman, the Nigerian people. Papa, gifted with an intelligence that holds so much potential, instead wields his power with the cruel, unsparing hand of a megalomaniacal dictator. He crushes, but does not defeat, the spirit of his hopeful, innocent daughter. Adichie is such a master of character ambiguity. It is easy to hate Papa for his fanatic religiosity and his sociopathic control of his family, but here is a Big Man whose wealth supports his community— he provides fuel and food to families one step shy of poverty; he pays school fees so children can rise above and become leaders. Just like Nigeria, that breaks the heart over and over with corruption and civil war, Papa is a force that cannot be stemmed without consequence. You wonder if the heart itself is corrupt, and what could have been done to channel that energy for good instead of ruin. Purple Hibiscus is fragile, just like the flower of its title, just like its narrator, Kambili. It is told with gentle beauty, in striking contrast to the pervading dread and tension that underlies the narrative. There is domestic tension for fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja, who fear coming in second at school, for second simply will not do at home. Their days are regimented, following a strict schedule of study and worship established by their father. Mama is all too often in the middle, taking the brunt of Papa's cruelty, literally with her body, figuratively with her spirit. There is the political tension, as coups ripple through Nigeria, shaking an already-crumbling foundation. Power and fortunes can change hands overnight, and you sense that Papa's brutal hand at home is a reflection of the political reality, as well as a way to maintain control in one area of his life because it could so easily be taken away everywhere else. Kambili's salvation is found in the home of her paternal aunt, the irrepressible Auntie Ifeoma, and her cousins. Beyond the antiseptic confines of her father's estate, Kambili discovers a world of affection and chatter, independence, noise—a ripe and vibrant Nigeria—a place where she belongs that is free of fear and violence, a hopeful could-be, just beyond her terrible what-is. I wasn't quite certain what to make of Father Amadi's character. His affection for the impressionable Kambili made me extremely uncomfortable; I felt he took sickening advantage of a vulnerable young girl, yet Adichie paints him, and their interactions, in a glowing, soft-focus light that is generous beyond a school-girl crush. Again, her skill at creating ambiguous relationships and multi-faceted character shines through, but I squirmed at Kambili's obvious need for the priest's approval and the blurred line he crosses in offering his support. In her singular gorgeous, confident voice, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie delivers a sincere coming-of-age story of a young girl living in under constant threat of domestic and political violence. It is at once deeply personal and universal. It is wholly unforgettable. And you will be left wondering, what is forgivable?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chantal

    You can also read the full review here! She seemed so happy, so at peace, and I wondered how anybody around me could feel that way when liquid fire was raging inside me, when fear was mingling with hope and clutching itself around my ankles .  Purple Hibiscus is the first book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that I’ve read, but I can guarantee it won’t be my last. I loved this book so much and felt deeply connected to the characters and story. It was such an insightful and thought-provoking read You can also read the full review here! She seemed so happy, so at peace, and I wondered how anybody around me could feel that way when liquid fire was raging inside me, when fear was mingling with hope and clutching itself around my ankles .  Purple Hibiscus is the first book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that I’ve read, but I can guarantee it won’t be my last. I loved this book so much and felt deeply connected to the characters and story. It was such an insightful and thought-provoking read, I couldn’t put it down and was utterly absorbed in these characters’ lives. The novel is narrated by 15-year-old Kambili who lives in Nigeria with her parents and older brother, Jaja. Her father is an extremely wealthy man in the area and so they live in a beautiful house, the children go to one of the best private schools and it seems the family has it all. The reader quickly realises, however, that looks can be deceiving. Kambili, Jaja and their mother live in constant fear of Kambili’s father, Eugene, who is a religious zealot and rules over his family with the utmost authority, often resorting to mental and physical abuse. Eugene is very generous towards the wider community, as long as they are Christians, but rigidly determines his family’s every action by, for example, writing detailed daily schedules for his kids. There is no joy, laughter or freedom of speech in Kambili’s household, to the extent that Kambili and Jaja don’t even dare to talk openly with each other. We did that often, asking each other questions whose answers we already knew. Perhaps it was so that we would not ask the other questions, the ones whose answers we did not want to know. But then, one day, Kambili’s aunt and her cousins come to visit and they end up convincing Eugene to let Jaja and Kambili spend a week at their house. Gradually, Kambili’s and Jaja’s eyes are opened to a different life and the privileges that other children their age experience. This book was amazing. The writing was very different from what I expected of a novel categorized as literary fiction. It was accessible and easy to fall into, straightforward but not in a negative way. Adichie doesn’t overly decorate her words and the prose is concise yet she still manages to infuse her words with the emotion and sorrowfulness befitting the story. The characters are extremely fleshed-out and complex. Eugene is a character you hate, and yet you can understand him and his moral dilemma. He is deeply ashamed of his country and heritage, almost shockingly charitable to those who have conformed to Catholicism, but treats those who have not – such as his own father – as heathens and does not even deign to speak to them. He is obsessed with the idea of sin, which results in him dictating his family, and comes across as an unhinged character who is being consumed by his own religious fanaticism. It would have been so easy for Adichie to make him the villain, to have him be irredeemable. But instead she made him so human that, even though I hated him, I also felt pity. I loved Kambili as a narrator. She was written masterfully; Kambili isn’t special or even particularly strong. She doesn’t fully comprehend what is going on in her life, doesn’t understand that the way her father treats her is unacceptable, doesn’t rebel against his authority. Instead, she tries to please and appease him in every way she knows how. She loves him, worships him, believes him to be the great man everyone around her tells her he is. This made her so incredibly relatable to me. I was worried I would start finding her frustrating after a while but fortunately that didn't happen. Her actions reflected the abuse she has gone through and I wanted to jump into the book and give her a hug so badly. It was what Aunty Ifeoma did to my cousins, I realized then, setting higher and higher jumps for them in the way she talked to them, in what she expected of them. She did it all the time believing they would scale the rod. And they did. It was different for Jaja and me. We did not scale the rod because we believed we could, we scaled it because we were terrified that we couldn't. I also appreciated the insight into Nigerian culture as well as what colonialism means for a native population. The story is set against the backdrop of a recent military coup and we get small glimpses into what is going on in the country through the worsening circumstances of Kambili’s family, but the book isn’t about that. It is and remains a book about family and their dynamics, as well as Kambili’s inner turmoil and growth. Purple Hibiscus is a beautifully told coming-of-age story full of tension and perfectly paced. It was both enlightening and harrowing, but also gave me a strange sense of nostalgia. I recommend it to everyone and cannot wait to read my next book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

  7. 5 out of 5

    may ➹

    so glad this book by a TERF was as bad as I thought it would be

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    A father/husband who is physically abusive, extremely authoritarian, rigidly Catholic, yet extremely generous toward his community drives the action of the novel. When his children, Kambili (the narrator) and Jaja, go to live with their aunt they witness and begin to experience autonomy. Nigerian political strife is merely a backdrop in this novel. Eugene, Kambili’s father, runs a paper and finds himself having to take his printing underground to escape the authorities; Ifeoma, Kambili’s aunt/ E A father/husband who is physically abusive, extremely authoritarian, rigidly Catholic, yet extremely generous toward his community drives the action of the novel. When his children, Kambili (the narrator) and Jaja, go to live with their aunt they witness and begin to experience autonomy. Nigerian political strife is merely a backdrop in this novel. Eugene, Kambili’s father, runs a paper and finds himself having to take his printing underground to escape the authorities; Ifeoma, Kambili’s aunt/ Eugene’s sister, loses her University job because she was suspected of supporting student riots. But the book is not about the political scene, it is about the family, the changes the family goes through as they learn more about each other, and the changes that Kambili struggles with as she realizes she can hold her own opinions and make her own decisions. Adichie does a masterful job of presenting multi-dimensional characters in a realistic world. Though I do not have any first-hand experience of life in Nigeria, Adichie never leaves me feeling like I do not understand some aspect of life there, but the tone is never didactic. She has found the perfect balance of being sufficiently descriptive while never allowing the descriptions to become tedious. An extremely well-executed first novel!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    My official end-of-year project is reading backlist from authors I just fell in love with this year, and Adichie’s stunning debut novel got me off to a fantastic start. This is the story of 15-year-old Kambili and her brother Jaja. Their father is a Big Man in their Nigerian community. He is a devout Christian, and keeping his family on the narrow path of the faithful is his primary focus in life, no matter what it takes. He is verbally and physically abusive, and his family lives in fear of him My official end-of-year project is reading backlist from authors I just fell in love with this year, and Adichie’s stunning debut novel got me off to a fantastic start. This is the story of 15-year-old Kambili and her brother Jaja. Their father is a Big Man in their Nigerian community. He is a devout Christian, and keeping his family on the narrow path of the faithful is his primary focus in life, no matter what it takes. He is verbally and physically abusive, and his family lives in fear of him. When Kambili and Jaja go to spend a week with their aunt and her children, they begin to see their father for what he is, and everything changes. Adichie’s writing is engaging from the very first page, and as Kambili and Jaja’s story goes on, it becomes difficult to watch but impossible to look away. I can’t recall the last time I felt such a knot in my stomach as I read a book. This is the kind of book any writer would be proud to claim at any point in their career. That it was a debut is simply incredible. From Inbox/Outbox: December 19- http://bookriot.com/2014/12/19/inboxo... ------------------------ In Enugu, Kambili and her brother appear privileged. However, their father, a religious zealot, is tyrannical. Efficient, Adichie’s first sentence says it all: “Things started to fall apart at home when my brother, Jaja, did not go to communion and Papa flung his heavy missal across the room and broke the figurines on the étagère.” When the siblings are sent to their aunt’s near the university, they are happily exposed to a different world. A searing debut, Adichie’s attention to detail—flowers, cooking, music—distracts from the terror invoked by her father, Eugene, which widens eyes and skyrockets blood pressure. –Connie Pan from Buy, Borrow, Bypass: Books by Virgos: https://bookriot.com/2017/08/28/books...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    Really good debut novel that is at heart a family drama, but also a look at race, politics, social unrest and religious fanaticism. I love Adichie's writing and the characters she creates here are memorable and believable. Highly recommend. Really good debut novel that is at heart a family drama, but also a look at race, politics, social unrest and religious fanaticism. I love Adichie's writing and the characters she creates here are memorable and believable. Highly recommend.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Éimhear (A Little Haze)

    ++++ 2021 Update: Since I read this work by Adichie I have discovered that she is an author who shares very different ideologies than I do. And therefore she is an author I feel I can no longer support as I am unable to separate the art from the artist. I shall leave my review intact but remove my rating. ++++ This wonderful book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was recommended to me by my dear Goodreads friend Anne (you should be following her, not only is she lovely but she writes amazing reviews). ++++ 2021 Update: Since I read this work by Adichie I have discovered that she is an author who shares very different ideologies than I do. And therefore she is an author I feel I can no longer support as I am unable to separate the art from the artist. I shall leave my review intact but remove my rating. ++++ This wonderful book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was recommended to me by my dear Goodreads friend Anne (you should be following her, not only is she lovely but she writes amazing reviews). “We did that often, asking each other questions whose answers we already knew. Perhaps it was so that we would not ask the other questions, the ones whose answers we did not want to know.” Purple Hibiscus tells the story of 15 year old Kambili. She lives at home with her brother and her parents. From the outside Kambili’s wealthy family seem to have it all but looks can be deceiving and Kambili’s home-life is far from comfortable. She, her brother and mother all live in fear of Kambili’s father Eugene. To the wider community he is a charismatic man who people respect, is generous with his wealth and is a vocal supporter of just causes with his newspaper….but at home there is another side to him. He is religious to the extreme and rules over his family with fear and violence. He is both physically and mentally abusive to his family. There is no joy in Kambili’s home, there is no laughter…everything is regimented and sterile. Eugene even treats his own ailing father with coldness and refuses to let his children have normal contact with their grandfather as he has not chosen the catholic faith and is viewed as a heathen. Eugene is a deeply complicated character; a man living in a world between old gods and new gods, a man deeply ashamed of himself and his heritage, a man who is charitable to the extreme to those who follow catholic teachings but who views all others as heathens who are damned for eternity… it could be very easy to have painted this character as a one dimensional hateful figure…and I do utterly hate him, but Adichie wrote his story with such care and attention to detail that I as a reader could understand him, how troubled he is… at times I even pitied him…that is an amazing skill as an author. Eugene believes that his way of life, his punishment of his family is nothing more than repentance and that this is the way of God. “Everything I do for you, I do for your own good,” Papa said. “You know that?” But to me the most utterly heart-breaking aspect of this story is that Kambili doesn’t seem to realise that she is oppressed by her father. She loves him and worships him. She is proud of him. She treats him with an almost reverential respect. “But I knew Papa would not be proud. He had often told Jaja and me that he did not spend so much money on Daughters of the Immaculate Heart and St. Nicholas to have us let other children come first. Nobody had spent money on his schooling, especially not his Godless father, our Papa-Nnukwu, yet he had always come first. I wanted to make Papa proud, to do as well as he had done. I needed him to touch the back of my neck and tell me that I was fulfilling God’s purpose. I needed him to hug me close and say that to whom much is given, much is expected. I needed him to smile at me, in that way that lit up his face, that warmed something inside me. But I had come second. I was stained by failure.” There is a constant sense of tension throughout the pages of this novel, the characters are constantly repressing their feelings for fear of retribution…until the point when Kambili and her brother Jaja take a trip to visit their Aunt Ifeoma… Aunt Ifeoma is Eugene’s sister and she is aware of her brother’s religious zeal and tyrannical behaviour towards his family. “Every time Aunty Ifeoma spoke to Papa, my heart stopped, then started again in a hurry. It was the flippant tone; she did not seem to recognise that it was Papa, that he was different, special.” Ifeoma tries to encourage Kambili and Jaja, she introduces them to a different way of living, introduces them to their cousins and shows them how family life should be… When Kambili and Jaja are visiting Ifeoma something happens to the writing style too and I as a reader felt the characters relaxing ever so slightly… And Kambili begins to blossom in her own very shy and quiet way. “It was what Aunty Ifeoma did to my cousins, I realised then, setting higher and higher jumps for them in the way she talked to them, in what she expected of them. She did it all the time believing they would scale the rod. And they did. It was different for Jaja and me. We did not scale the rod because we believed we could, we scaled it because we were terrified that we couldn't.” This is a beautiful and heart breaking coming of age story set against the backdrop of political and social unrest in a post-colonial Nigeria. Kambili is such a wonderful main character. My lovely goodreads friend Anne called her a most ordinary heroine, she is just like you or I. That is what is so captivating about her. I just wanted to jump into the pages of this novel and hug her! I wanted her to know that she was special, that she was worthwhile. I shed so many tears reading some of the passages in this book…how Kambili did not realise that she should not be punished like she was, that she wasn’t deserving of such violent penance… (view spoiler)[There was an old rule in the Catholic faith that you do not eat for an hour or so before you receive the Body of Christ at Mass… However there was one particularly harrowing moment in the book when Kambili got her period just before Mass. Her mother gave her some Panadol for her menstrual cramps and told her to eat a small bowl of cornflakes so as not to be taking the pain medication on an empty stomach. Eugene discovered this and beat everyone with his belt shouting “Why do you walk into sin? Why do you like sin”…he was a deeply unhinged character who was deranged by his zealousness. (hide spoiler)] I loved everything about this book, the writing style, the depth of the characters, the heart, the emotion… it all just combined to make a beautiful and timeless coming of age story, one that I look forward to rereading time and again. Five stars “His letters dwell on me. I carry them around because they are long and detailed, because they remind me of my worthiness, because they tug at my feelings. Some months ago, he wrote that he did not want me to seek the whys, because there are some things that happen for which we can formulate no whys, for which whys simply do not exist and, perhaps, are not necessary. He did not mention Papa—he hardly mentions Papa in his letters—but I knew what he meant, I understood that he was stirring what I was afraid to stir myself.”

  12. 5 out of 5

    ·Karen·

    Aunty Ifeoma writes to her niece in Nigeria from America: There are people, she once wrote, who think that we cannot rule ourselves because the few times we tried, we failed, as if all the others who rule themselves today got it right the first time. It is like telling a crawling baby who tries to walk, and then falls back on his buttocks, to stay there. As if the adults walking past him did not all crawl, once. It is particularly appropriate to be reading this around the time of the president Aunty Ifeoma writes to her niece in Nigeria from America: There are people, she once wrote, who think that we cannot rule ourselves because the few times we tried, we failed, as if all the others who rule themselves today got it right the first time. It is like telling a crawling baby who tries to walk, and then falls back on his buttocks, to stay there. As if the adults walking past him did not all crawl, once. It is particularly appropriate to be reading this around the time of the presidential election in Nigeria, in which, for the first time in its history, the incumbent president conceded victory to his opponent in a peaceable transfer of power. Adichie has written, here, a magnificently controlled, perfectly modulated parable of rule by tyranny and repression, by a complex perpetrator who succeeds in appearing benevolent and munificent to the outside world although he is a cold and calculating control freak at home. Don't believe anyone who tries to dismiss this as a YA novel of a young girl's awakening, this is not teenage angoisse at pimples and popularity stakes. This is for grown-up people.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    Yet another beautiful and honest story from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that hits you in the heart and stays with you for a long time to come. This one is about a Nigerian family who has its secret. To begin with, a lot of things are veiled as you only get to see things from the protagonist's, Kambili's, perspective. However, as the story continues we realize that there is more behind the story than you think, and the horrible truth is heart-breaking and thought-provoking. I really like Adichie's b Yet another beautiful and honest story from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that hits you in the heart and stays with you for a long time to come. This one is about a Nigerian family who has its secret. To begin with, a lot of things are veiled as you only get to see things from the protagonist's, Kambili's, perspective. However, as the story continues we realize that there is more behind the story than you think, and the horrible truth is heart-breaking and thought-provoking. I really like Adichie's books because I find them educating and beautifully written. The only thing that bothered me with this one was the ending, which in my opinion was questionable. Nevertheless, I simply adored this book, and I appreciate it for its simplicity and the impact it has made on me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aditi

    “From the beginning men used God to justify the unjustifiable.” ----Salman Rushdie Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an award winning Nigerian author, has penned an immensely absorbing family drama in her literary fiction novel, Purple Hibiscus where the author weaves the tale of a young Nigerian girl who belongs from a very rich and affluent family where the father of the family is a religious fanatic and used to torture his wife, his daughter and his son in the name of Christ if they commit a slight “From the beginning men used God to justify the unjustifiable.” ----Salman Rushdie Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an award winning Nigerian author, has penned an immensely absorbing family drama in her literary fiction novel, Purple Hibiscus where the author weaves the tale of a young Nigerian girl who belongs from a very rich and affluent family where the father of the family is a religious fanatic and used to torture his wife, his daughter and his son in the name of Christ if they commit a slight mistake, but when the young girl goes to live with her aunt during the military coup invasion, she learns ugly secrets about her not so perfectly religious family. Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound. Her wealthy Catholic father, under whose shadow Kambili lives, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home. When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority. The visit will lift the silence from their world and, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways. This is a book about the promise of freedom; about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood; between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new. Kambili, a fifteen year old girl, lives under constant fear of her religiously fanatic father who is an ardent Catholic man and owner of some factories as well as contributes for a newspaper where he freely expresses his opinion about politics and the country. Kambili and her elder brother, Jaja and her mother live in a palatial mansion but their lives and happiness are dominated by the man who is a strong believer of rules laced with religion. So if Kambili or Jaja or her mother makes even a slight mistake, they are punished physically to repent and to learn a lesson about making mistakes. But pretty soon, Nigeria falls under the rule of a military coup where political scandals, corruption, poverty and public execution became a common affair, and Kambili's father, who is an influential and affluent man in the society, sends away his kids to his sister's house, who lives inside an university campus, in a different town. In her aunt's house, where her children laugh out heartily and the household is always happy even though they are very poor, Kambili realizes the real definition of freedom and also tastes it along with her brother. But is it easy to escape from her father's wrath who pushes her down as well as denies from any freedom of childhood happiness to his own children? This is the very first time that I grabbed my hands on an Adichie novel and that too her debut book which bagged quite a lot of literary awards. Although unfortunately, the story is not that remarkable as most reviews say so. Why? Well mainly because of the fact that the author has failed to depict an intimidating man through the narrative of his 15-year old daughter, and also the author's own hometown which is a fractured projection into its deep cores, thereby I failed to visually or mentally form an image of a country dominated by a military coup or its people facing grave troubles because of the coup. The author's writing style is incredible, eloquent and extremely redolent that readers will grab the readers with its flair right from the very start. The narrative is extremely sorrowful as the author strikingly captures the pain and the longing for a free childhood through a fifteen year old girl's voice, that the readers will find it easy to comprehend with even though the narrative has so many layers within. The pacing is moderate, as the author unravels the story through dimension and underlying stories of a country falling apart besides the story of a young girl and her family. As already mentioned before, the author's portrayal of Nigeria is really vivid, yet it is projected through fractures thereby stopping the readers to recreate the complete portrait of Nigeria. Apart from that, the author strongly depicts the then corruption, riots, denial from basic amenities like water to the common people, public execution, scandals when Nigeria came under the rule of a military coup that set a fear into the hearts of its countrymen. The dusty roads, the mass, the churches, the garden in Kambili's mansion, the rare purple hibiscus, the people, the language, the food and the culture, all these aspects are vividly captured that will let the readers to take a peek into the heart of Nigeria. The characters from this book are well developed, especially the central character and the protagonist of the book, Kambili, who is drawn with enough realism to make the readers connect with her simple yet fearful demeanor. Although there is not much evolution into her demeanor, but somehow she learns to enjoy the basic happiness that a teenager must experience while she goes away from her home, and later that makes her a mature woman. Her sadness will deeply move the readers as she narrates her cry for freedom from her dominating and torturing father. The rest of the supporting characters are also well etched out but fails to leave a mark into the minds of the readers. And also the author failed to make the readers grasp the mentality of a strong and rich Catholic family man and his ideals. In a nutshell, this enduring story is not only poignant but thoroughly enlightening that will make the readers lose themselves into the world of a fifteen year old Nigerian girl whose only wish is freedom for herself, for her brother and mother as well as for her own country. Verdict: A captivating family drama.

  15. 5 out of 5

    James

    Whilst not quite in the same league as ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ (‘Purple Hibiscus’ is neither as accomplished nor as ambitious in scope) – ‘Purple Hibiscus’ is nevertheless a very strong and affecting novel. Set again in Nigeria and although told against a backdrop of civil unrest and corruption, this is very much focussed on the family and on the characters immediate domestic situation. Told by, and seen through the eyes of the main protagonist – the desperately shy fifteen-year-old Kambili, this Whilst not quite in the same league as ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ (‘Purple Hibiscus’ is neither as accomplished nor as ambitious in scope) – ‘Purple Hibiscus’ is nevertheless a very strong and affecting novel. Set again in Nigeria and although told against a backdrop of civil unrest and corruption, this is very much focussed on the family and on the characters immediate domestic situation. Told by, and seen through the eyes of the main protagonist – the desperately shy fifteen-year-old Kambili, this is to some extent a coming of age story about growing up in a privileged family, experiencing violence at home along with all the complicated and complex emotions associated with that. There is perhaps another contrast here with ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ – where the violence (whilst affecting all) was experienced and committed largely on and driven by the bigger political stage. As with ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, there are good, strongly written and believable characters here who you want to know more about. Again there is a feeling of authenticity and believability to this novel. Other important and broader themes central to the story of ‘Purple Hibiscus’ and covered well, focus on religious oppression and its associated divisions, the clash between the old and the new, the traditional and the modern, sin and retribution, the divisions within family and in society, privilege and disadvantage – maybe the main theme is just that – division and the struggle for reconciliation? This is a thought provoking and engaging novel covering universal themes – recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Johann (jobis89)

    “We did that often, asking each other questions whose answers we already knew.” Purple Hibiscus is a story weighed down with oppression. The oppression of religion. An oppressive father. Oppressive heat. A country under an oppressive regime. But there is also the slightest hint of freedom. Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. But all is not as perfect as it seems in their household. As Nigeria begins to crumble under a military coup, Kambili “We did that often, asking each other questions whose answers we already knew.” Purple Hibiscus is a story weighed down with oppression. The oppression of religion. An oppressive father. Oppressive heat. A country under an oppressive regime. But there is also the slightest hint of freedom. Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. But all is not as perfect as it seems in their household. As Nigeria begins to crumble under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to stay with their aunt and cousins, where laughter freely rings throughout the house. This is my second Adichie novel and although I didn’t love it as much as Americanah, I was still enthralled and moved by this relatively straight forward story. It’s a beautifully touching coming-of-age story told from the perspective of Kambili. Kambili’s father is a man with two very different sides to his personality. He does so much for his community, is looked upon with respect and admiration, but behind closed doors his family is subject to abuse. It was interesting to read about Kambili’s relationship with her father, the way in which she strived for his approval and the love that she had for him, regardless of how he treats her family. Such relationships can be complicated and Adichie explores it with the finesse that I would expect her to. My hatred for Kambili’s father was only matched by my love for Aunty Ifeoma. She’s so vibrant and full of life. A truly charismatic presence in the novel. I just LOVED her. I also loved reading about Kambili’s growing infatuation with Father Amadi. Their interactions just felt so charged. Adichie is quickly becoming a favourite author for me. She’s certainly on my auto-buy list. I’d recommend picking up Purple Hibiscus if you like books that have beautiful writing and explore family dynamics. 4.5 stars

  17. 4 out of 5

    Krista Regester

    Purple Hibiscus is a brilliant read, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes with understated passion. I love the story and how the family interacts with each other is so interesting. Why I have to give it a 4 star: Lisette Lecat narrated the audio. Although she is a south African native... she is white... and she has a British accent. I find this pretty inappropriate and distracting since this entire book is based on a young girl of color and her family. Because of this, I felt I was unable to conn Purple Hibiscus is a brilliant read, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes with understated passion. I love the story and how the family interacts with each other is so interesting. Why I have to give it a 4 star: Lisette Lecat narrated the audio. Although she is a south African native... she is white... and she has a British accent. I find this pretty inappropriate and distracting since this entire book is based on a young girl of color and her family. Because of this, I felt I was unable to connect to the story as well. Not to mention all of the intense swallowing and gulping that was happening. Come on, you can't edit that out?? It sounded like she was having to take long breaks throughout where she would just gulp down a huge swig of water. I was pretty surprised and disappointed by this.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Monika

    How self assured we sound when we disapprove of a person who does not stand behind the morality lines we have drawn! In Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie challenges this moral authority of ours. Against the backdrop of a failing military regime — I wonder if there is a military regime which is not crumbling — Purple Hibiscus is narrated by an adolescent Kambili, who is concealed by the high walls of her father's making. Kambili, her brother, Jaja and her mother, Beatrice, are dictated by How self assured we sound when we disapprove of a person who does not stand behind the morality lines we have drawn! In Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie challenges this moral authority of ours. Against the backdrop of a failing military regime — I wonder if there is a military regime which is not crumbling — Purple Hibiscus is narrated by an adolescent Kambili, who is concealed by the high walls of her father's making. Kambili, her brother, Jaja and her mother, Beatrice, are dictated by the thoughts of their father, Eugene, a pious and charitable Christian. Eugene, just like every other character in the novel, is extremely complex. Adichie does not employ a black or white lens while drawing her characters. Invoking Chinua Achebe's debut novel, Things Fall Apart, from the beginning of her work, she delicately sews the tale of a modern Nigeria - a Nigeria that has grown from Achebe's pre-colonial land to Adichie's post-colonial dishevelment. I, by no means, am trying to glorify the pre-colonial era but the contrived swarm of post-independent Nigeria is close to my reality. The potholes in the roads, the lumps in powdered milk, the size of meat "the width of two fingers pressed close together and the length of half a finger", the silence of Ade Coker's daughter – all of it are contiguous with my home. The novel, while being terribly distressing, also soothed my soul knowing that there is an end to pain and discomfort - either your life changes tracks or your life ceases to exist - either way, pain abates. I wish Chimamanda read the reviews that are written of her works. That way, I would have been able to tell her how deeply she is revered. I would have been able to tell her that just like when she received a mail from Achebe's son who told her how much their family loved her work, I would have been able to express my gratitude to her for telling me a historical and familial saga of a Nigeria which was falling apart. I wish, just like her dense closure, to ream our dark future - a future which seems too predictable at the moment.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I was pleased to open this book as one of the picks during a year + with the "Postal Book Swap F" group. This is our second year send books around and the picks are entirely secret until everyone has seen everything. I had previously read and enjoyed Americanah and always thought I might go back and read Adichie's previous works. I also have Half of a Yellow Sun on my shelf, unread. I loved this story, and it resonated deeply because of my own experiences with my own father. And I think she does I was pleased to open this book as one of the picks during a year + with the "Postal Book Swap F" group. This is our second year send books around and the picks are entirely secret until everyone has seen everything. I had previously read and enjoyed Americanah and always thought I might go back and read Adichie's previous works. I also have Half of a Yellow Sun on my shelf, unread. I loved this story, and it resonated deeply because of my own experiences with my own father. And I think she does a good job of showing that no matter how much privilege you have, if you aren't safe at home, you do not have a good life. I really felt for Kambili and Jaja. (Thanks Connie!)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Em Lost In Books

    “We did that often, asking each other questions whose answers we already knew. Perhaps it was so that we would not ask the other questions, the ones whose answers we did not want to know.” What a beautiful and heartbreaking tale!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    Adichie has an incredible talent for making the reader lose themselves in the story she has created. I could feel the gritty winds of the harmattan, and the bumpy, potholed roads between Enugu and Nsukka; see the blooming purple hibiscus and the dancing Mmuo spirits. I loved Adichie's inclusion of Igbo words, contextualised or explained so that I was never uncertain of their meaning. I actually had more trouble with the vocabulary of Catholicism, not being religious myself, and had to look up ma Adichie has an incredible talent for making the reader lose themselves in the story she has created. I could feel the gritty winds of the harmattan, and the bumpy, potholed roads between Enugu and Nsukka; see the blooming purple hibiscus and the dancing Mmuo spirits. I loved Adichie's inclusion of Igbo words, contextualised or explained so that I was never uncertain of their meaning. I actually had more trouble with the vocabulary of Catholicism, not being religious myself, and had to look up many of the terms. Yet it was these small additional details that enhanced the sense of time and place in the novel. It made it all the more real to read the brief, yet violent moments of physical abuse. The family home was full of the tension and silence that is born of fear. What a comparison it made to the home of Aunty Ifeoma, where anything could be said and laughter filled the space. In dealing with themes such a familial assault, political uncertainty, wealth, colonialism, religion, and morality, Adichie has created a book that is both specific and universal. Her skilful writing and personal experience place the setting firmly within the book's Nigerian setting, but the examples and lessons she draws from human character have a far wider relevance. While reading other reviews, I noticed that many seem to suggest that this is the worst of her books. If so, I say, brilliant...I already have both Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah to read next.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anabel (inthebookcorner)

    Left me in tears. It's great to read a book and be reminded of the reasons you love to read. Can't wait to read more Adichie. Left me in tears. It's great to read a book and be reminded of the reasons you love to read. Can't wait to read more Adichie.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Read By RodKelly

    Not possible for her to write anything less than excellent...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah (Presto agitato)

    Chimamanda Adichie is one of those rare writers who has a gift for seeing as much as for writing. Her prose is evocative yet precise, and the story is carefully structured and well-paced. The most striking aspect of this novel, though, is the nuance of the characterizations. The main characters are all multi-layered, with aspects of their personalities revealed a little at a time, quietly, resulting in a picture that is rich and real. Even minor characters who make only brief appearances, like t Chimamanda Adichie is one of those rare writers who has a gift for seeing as much as for writing. Her prose is evocative yet precise, and the story is carefully structured and well-paced. The most striking aspect of this novel, though, is the nuance of the characterizations. The main characters are all multi-layered, with aspects of their personalities revealed a little at a time, quietly, resulting in a picture that is rich and real. Even minor characters who make only brief appearances, like the woman who braids hair at the market sitting next to her basket of snails, leave an impression. Adichie has a way of making you look twice at small details with a subtle yet revelatory emphasis. This isn't a story of absolutes. Here, as in life, good people do bad things, bad people do good things, religious sincerity can result in both great kindness and terrible cruelty, and a country can be both a beloved home and a place of repression. The choice of responses on both the family level and on a larger scale is the same--resist? submit? escape?--but there are no easy answers.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sonja Arlow

    3.5 stars There is something unique yet familiar about this coming of age story. Kambili and her brother Jaja grows up in luxury with a highly respected father during a time period where Nigeria is under military reign. But behind closed doors this father rules with an iron fist and almost fanatical religious zeal. The atmosphere of living with an abusive parent was captured so well that it made the reading difficult at times. The author also shows the destructive nature of holding on to a belief t 3.5 stars There is something unique yet familiar about this coming of age story. Kambili and her brother Jaja grows up in luxury with a highly respected father during a time period where Nigeria is under military reign. But behind closed doors this father rules with an iron fist and almost fanatical religious zeal. The atmosphere of living with an abusive parent was captured so well that it made the reading difficult at times. The author also shows the destructive nature of holding on to a belief to the detriment of your humanity. What makes this unique is the setting. With vivid descriptions of life in Nigeria and specifically the food, it made me want to try Nigerian cuisine….. well maybe not the Aku (termites) The story is told from the viewpoint if Kambili and she came across as both naïve and world weary. The ending felt a little abrupt for me but overall I think it’s a worthy addition to the YA genre that will expose western readers to the charms of Nigeria but also show that we all have the same hopes and fears. As a side note the author’s TED talks are amazing and highly recommended.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Candi

    “I laughed because Nsukka’s untarred roads coat cars with dust in the harmattan and with sticky mud in the rainy season. Because the tarred roads spring potholes like surprise presents and the air smells of hills and history and the sunlight scatters the sand and turns it into gold dust. Because Nsukka could free something deep inside your belly that would rise up to your throat and come out as a freedom song. As laughter.” This debut novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is full of expressive prose “I laughed because Nsukka’s untarred roads coat cars with dust in the harmattan and with sticky mud in the rainy season. Because the tarred roads spring potholes like surprise presents and the air smells of hills and history and the sunlight scatters the sand and turns it into gold dust. Because Nsukka could free something deep inside your belly that would rise up to your throat and come out as a freedom song. As laughter.” This debut novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is full of expressive prose just as brilliant as this one uttered by Kambili upon her return visit to the one place that gave her a voice and a chance to understand what life could really be outside the judgmental and abusive authority of her religiously fanatic father, Eugene. Fifteen-year old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a prosperous but sheltered life with this authoritarian father and their submissive mother. Domestic abuse and violence are sadly a recurrent theme in their household, and many incidents left me feeling quite angered and sorry for the children and their mother. Kambili narrates, “Fear. I was familiar with fear, yet each time I felt it, it was never the same as the other times, as though it came in different flavors and colors.” Despite the fear, however, Kambili respects her father and works very hard to earn his approval and love. “I knew that when the tea burned my tongue, it burned Papa’s love into me.” Jaja, on the other hand, while a victim of this abuse as well, is introduced as having a bit more of a self-assertive personality, beginning with a refusal to take communion at church one Sunday. This rebellious nature grows quite rapidly throughout the book. “Jaja’s defiance seemed to me now like Aunty Ifeoma’s experimental purple hibiscus: rare, fragrant with the undertones of freedom, a different kind of freedom from the one the crowds waving green leaves chanted at Government Square after the coup. A freedom to be, to do.” There is a great contrast in this novel between the Igbo culture of the children’s grandfather, Papa Nnukwu, and the Catholic fervor of Eugene, who is Papa Nnukwu’s son. Eugene goes so far as to call his own father “heathen” and “pagan” due to his unwillingness to convert to Catholicism and will not allow Papa Nnukwu within the walls of his own home. His children are not allowed to see their grandfather save for the very rare several minute visits that are permitted to them. Kambili is confused by this and struggles with the conflict between her conviction in her father’s views and with her own private thoughts about her grandfather. “I had examined him that day, too, looking away when his eyes met mine, for signs of difference, of Godlessness. I didn’t see any, but I was sure they were there somewhere. They had to be.” When Kambili and Jaja leave their parents to stay for several days in Nsukka with Aunty Ifeoma, Eugene’s forward-thinking sister and university professor, they finally get a taste for what it is like to be out from under the strain of their father’s watchful eye. Aunty Ifeoma is a strong presence and her three children live a completely different life from that of their cousins Kambili and Jaja. At the dinner table, Kambili thinks “I had felt as if I were not there, that I was just observing a table where you could say anything at any time to anyone, where the air was free for you to breathe as you wished.” Her cousins are allowed to speak their mind without the fear of unreasonable punishment. Catholic followers as well, this family does not exhibit any of the fanaticism we see in Eugene. While staying in Nsukka, the children are also introduced to Father Amadi who shows them a gentle and caring side to Catholicism. He takes Kambili under his wing and gives her a reason to finally use her voice. She learns about love and happiness as she develops a very strong emotional attachment to Father Amadi. “I had smiled, run, laughed. My chest was filled with something like bath foam. Light. The lightness was so sweet I tasted it on my tongue, the sweetness of an overripe bright cashew fruit.” This relationship was the most poignant part of the novel, in my opinion. Now for some minor faults I noted in this book. I had a bit of difficulty settling into this initially. It took some time for me to become engaged with the characters. While the writing was superb, I felt that the characters were a bit too slowly developed. Although this was told from Kambili’s perspective, I had a hard time attaching myself to her during the first part of the novel. While I certainly felt very sympathetic towards Kambili and her mother and brother, I didn’t feel a real connection but had a sense of distance from them. This eventually changed further along in the book, at least with Kambili, but was a negative point for me at first. I also felt the plot was a bit loose at times. Sometimes events felt drawn out while others were rushed. Perhaps these little flaws are a result of this being Adichie’s first novel. The Nigerian setting is absorbing and the language is just so lovely; I am very hopeful that any further work written by Adichie can only have improved. She did have an interesting twist to the story which I enjoyed as well, but won’t divulge any more here. These positive points all point me in the direction of reading her next piece of writing. 3.5 stars go to Purple Hibiscus.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    A great coming-of-age story about fifteen-year-old Kambili, an obedient girl who watches as Nigeria falls under a military coup. At the same time her own family struggles to keep their personal cracks sealed. Kambili's father, a man who values religion above all else, abuses Kambili and her brother, ignores their ailing pagan grandfather, and helps hundreds of poor people all at once. When her father sends Kambili and her brother away to stay with their educated aunt and her free-spirited childr A great coming-of-age story about fifteen-year-old Kambili, an obedient girl who watches as Nigeria falls under a military coup. At the same time her own family struggles to keep their personal cracks sealed. Kambili's father, a man who values religion above all else, abuses Kambili and her brother, ignores their ailing pagan grandfather, and helps hundreds of poor people all at once. When her father sends Kambili and her brother away to stay with their educated aunt and her free-spirited children, Kambili learns another way of life - one that makes her question her past devotion. A valuable book that delves into Nigerian culture, religion, and politics while focusing on Kambili's growth as a character. Adichie's writing possesses a natural rhythm that made me fall into her story, and the exploration of Kambili's changing ties - both to her family and her spiritual beliefs - felt honest and moving. My favorite part of Purple Hibiscus was Kambili's connection to her father: Adichie's characterization of their relationship shows that no human only contains black or white. Evil and good can share space in the same body and mind; the actions of Kambili's father exemplifies that duality. Overall, a solid work of cultural, literary fiction. Kambili's voice felt a bit too dulled for me at certain points, but I would still recommend Purple Hibiscus to fans of The Color Purple or A Thousand Splendid Suns.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Raul Bimenyimana

    Beautiful storytelling from Chimamanda. Set in 1980s Nigeria Kambili, the protagonist of the story, is coming of age in an oppressive household and a dictatorial military regime. Chimamanda writes of abuse and violence through Kambili's father and the military regime, of the effects of colonialism and the erasure of traditional beliefs and systems and the conflicts that exist because of it. I think this was such a good and bold debut, especially considering Chimamanda was just twenty six when thi Beautiful storytelling from Chimamanda. Set in 1980s Nigeria Kambili, the protagonist of the story, is coming of age in an oppressive household and a dictatorial military regime. Chimamanda writes of abuse and violence through Kambili's father and the military regime, of the effects of colonialism and the erasure of traditional beliefs and systems and the conflicts that exist because of it. I think this was such a good and bold debut, especially considering Chimamanda was just twenty six when this book was published. I also think that some places were a bit overwritten and had a lot of descriptions but I grew fond of all the characters in the story, in their humanity and their losses. Now that I look at it after I'm done reading, I realize just how sad this story was.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    3.5 stars Kambili is fifteen, living at home with her brother, Jaja, her mother and her father, a wealthy businessman. Their home life though affluent and seemingly stable is an unhappy one with Kambili, Jaja and their mother walking on eggshells, living with the physically and emotionally abusive father, a religious, fanatical tyrant. Nigeria, politically unstable at this time, succumbs to a military coup. This is author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's debut. The writing is flowing, easy to follow, t 3.5 stars Kambili is fifteen, living at home with her brother, Jaja, her mother and her father, a wealthy businessman. Their home life though affluent and seemingly stable is an unhappy one with Kambili, Jaja and their mother walking on eggshells, living with the physically and emotionally abusive father, a religious, fanatical tyrant. Nigeria, politically unstable at this time, succumbs to a military coup. This is author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's debut. The writing is flowing, easy to follow, though not simplistic or superficial and sounded much like the educated, intelligent teenage narrator, Kambili should. The drama plays out within the family with the political strife set in the background. Perhaps because I've had too many encounters in my life with fanatical, religious hypocrites this story didn't sit too well with me. While I acknowledge the story was interesting even compelling, I could put it down (often) to clean or iron. Though this is told through the eyes of fifteen year-old Kambili, the central character seemed to me to be her father whose presence loomed menacingly over almost every page even when he wasn't featured in the scene. I think Purple Hibiscus is well worth reading, the novel itself well-crafted, though for me it was overshadowed by my dislike of the overbearing, dogmatic, rigid zealot who equates religion with God. The ending put a gleeful smirk on my face. * Thanks Kinga for the recommendation

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ash

    One of my top 10 books of 2020! This book surprised me with how good it was. I’d read plenty of praise for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, so I knew her writing would be good, but I wasn’t expecting it to blow me away like it did. This book earned an easy five stars for the way it effortlessly evoked strong emotion and changed my worldview. There is so much contained in just these 300-ish pages. Purple Hibiscus is a frighteningly realistic depiction of abuse. Protagonist Kambili is the teenage daughter One of my top 10 books of 2020! This book surprised me with how good it was. I’d read plenty of praise for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, so I knew her writing would be good, but I wasn’t expecting it to blow me away like it did. This book earned an easy five stars for the way it effortlessly evoked strong emotion and changed my worldview. There is so much contained in just these 300-ish pages. Purple Hibiscus is a frighteningly realistic depiction of abuse. Protagonist Kambili is the teenage daughter of a wealthy Nigerian businessman who uses his devout Catholic beliefs as justification for the way he treats his wife and two children. The tension in this family’s household, the atmosphere of fear and denial, and Kambili’s desperation to please her father leapt off the page. I came away from this book with a better understanding of the far-reaching, destructive effects abuse has on individuals and families. Outside of Kambili’s immediate family, Purple Hibiscus features a small but well-developed cast of side characters, including Kambili’s aunt and cousins, who demonstrate to Kambili and her brother Jaja what life is like in a happy, healthy home environment. There’s also Father Amadi, a young priest and a character I’m very ambivalent about. He was very likable, but (view spoiler)[I was uncomfortable with the budding romantic relationship between him and Kambili, given not just their age gap but also their obvious gap in maturity and life experience (hide spoiler)] . What makes this book shine is Adichie’s incredibly unique and effective writing style. It’s straightforward and sparse, which in some ways is even more impressive than lavish, wordy prose; it takes a rare writer to communicate so much emotion and meaning with so few words. It reads like a real teenage girl’s voice, but without sounding immature or otherwise putting off an adult reader. Although the theme of abuse had the biggest impact on me, Purple Hibiscus is about so much more than that. It effectively explores the ways religion can be used for good or twisted for evil, the way Europeans used religion as a tool of colonization in Africa, and the state of human rights and the rule of law in Nigeria. Adichie’s writing contains countless eye-opening observations that reminded me of my own limited worldview. Purple Hibiscus is a worthwhile and enjoyable read, and I can think of few people I wouldn’t recommend it to. I’ll add my voice to the many before me who have praised Adichie for her accomplishment with this one.

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