Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A-Z Wednesday: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Title: Purple Hibiscus
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
ISBN: 1400076943
Publisher: Anchor Books/2003
Pages: 307

When I read Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, I was kind of hooked to her words. I decided then and there, I will read all her books. Purple Hibiscus is just as engrossing. It speaks out to us at many levels. It is based in Nigeria in 1990s, in the midst of political unrest.

Kambili is a fifteen-year old girl, living with her parents and a seventeen-year old brother, Jaja. Her father is a well known figure who is a politically active and is a very generous person for his community. However, he is very oppressive and fanatically religious for his own family. At any kind of lapse, he punishes them severely, almost damaging them in the process. His love for his children and wife comes much below duty and love for God. He even abandons his own father who follows the old faith.

His sister Ifeoma, an university professer, takes in the children when there is a military coup in Nigeria. There they find a life which they had not envisaged at their home. Despite not having the best of financial resources, their cousins are always laughing and generally happy. Kambili and Jaja had not known of such free display of happiness or laughter. Slowly the children emerge out of their shells. Initially wary, both set of cousins slowly reach out for each other.

Kambili goes through the painful process of becoming an adult from a child. However, at what cost? What appealed to me the most, was the closeness between Kambili, Jaja and their mother, who suffers silently.

The title is so apt. Purple Hibiscus here are genetically made up. They show as a glimpse of how we can control our own lives if we so desire. How somewhat different attitude can change our lives. The parallels of a country and a family turmoil has been well brought out. Adichie's prose is superb. It holds us to the end. The conflict between old Gods and new ones is not so much as we make it out to be. If only we understood that.



NancyO said...

This book is great. I think it was the first book about war in Africa I ever read, but definitely not the last. Great reading choice!

Unknown said...

I really enjoy historical fiction, and this sounds like it has so many layers to the story line. Thanks for the review!

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

This sounds like a wonderful story...and I love that cover!

Here's mine:

fredamans said...

Sounds great, though I would want to read both.

Michelle said...

Not sure if I would like this book or not.

My `P` is up

Becca said...

It's so funny- I just, and I mean just, added this to my tbr list.

Beth said...

Interesting. Thanks for visiting.

jlshall said...

I've got this one on my TBR list already. Your review has me even more intrigued. Thanks!

Yvonne said...

Good choice. I love the cover!

Nise' said...

As heartbreaking as this subject is, I like to read about it.

Sarah at SmallWorld said...

This has been on my TBR list for such a long time. I need to get to it! Great review.