‘Purple Hibiscus’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscusstarstarstarstar“We did not scale the rod because we believed we could, we scaled it because we were terrified that we couldn’t.”

This book, set in Nigeria, has been on my TBR pile for years and I’m so glad my book club assignment finally moved it to the top of the list. What a beautifully written and moving story! I loved it as much as Adichie’s other novels Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah.

The author, while portraying the curious mix of love and fear in an abusive family situation, very articulately draws a portrait of a country filled with incredible beauty but also fraught with heartbreaking struggle. The book is so readable and the characters are very vivid. An African novel not to miss!

Kambili is living a life of wealthy privilege but also of abuse. Along with her mother and brother, the family endure physical and emotional trauma from her fanatically religious and extremely controlling father. It is an all too typical tragedy where the patriarch is revered in the community, and makes positive contributions to strangers, but abandons the needs of those closest to him.

When the political climate becomes dangerous because of a military coup, her father sends the two children away to stay with his sister Ifeoma. Their Aunty’s modest home is so very different–full of laughter, lively conversation, and so obviously devoid of cruel authority. Everyone helps, people encourage and tease each other, there is freedom to make choices, and doing the responsible thing is motivated from within rather than beaten into them. Kambili and her brother Jaja get a taste of freedom and unconditional love for the first time. Their minds are opened and things will never be the same again.

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