Over the years I have gone from reading everything I could lay my hands on to barely reading anything at all. One of my goals for the year was to get back to reading.Even better,I have made a decision to start a book review segment where I will be doing a review and recommendations of the books that I have read. This way I will keep you informed and also keep track of my reading progress.
Today I will be reviewing Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie! Read on to find out what it is all about.
Book: Purple Hibiscus
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Genres: Novel, Fiction
Themes: Purple hibiscus revolves around family, class disparities, tribal customs, politics, domestic violence and religion-the latter two taking centre stage.
Plot Summary: The story navigates around Kambili-a fifteen-year-old girl who lives with her family under the strict rule of her father who is a violent catholic patriarch, repressive, controlling and fanatically religious. Their father is a respectable generous man in the public eye but a monster behind closed doors who rules with an iron fist.Opinions are not welcome and silence and fear engulf the whole home as this is what keeps the peace.
As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father is forced to send her and her brother to their aunt’s place.While there they see a different side of life which they had never seen before. Happiness, love and laughter are the things that define their aunt’s home.This particular visit is the turning point.
Kambili: At fifteen, our main character is supposed to be enjoying her teenage life but she struggles with wanting to please her father and escaping his terror. It’s not an easy task as we see her sometimes falling short of his limitless expectation hence facing punishment. What I failed to understand was why Kambili was so adamant on pleasing a father who almost killed her while she sustained internal and head injuries.I tend to think that her behaviour is deeply rooted from her environment.
Kambili’s mother: She is one of the weakest and passive characters in the book. Time and again she is brutally beaten for reasons that are not divulged to us leading to miscarriages. She lives through the pain and is always polishing the ceramic figurines on the étagère. Polishing them is a way of calming herself and reorganizing her life after the disruption of Papa’s violence.It is only towards the end of the novel when we realize that she poisoned her husband.Kambili’s mother is a reflection of our African society where women are supposed to idolize men and adhere to rules even at the cost of violence.
Jaja: Kambili’s brother is quite the opposite. From the onset of the novel, he is sighted as defiant and rebellious when he refuses to go to communion. He bears disgust for his father’s mistreatment to his mother and sister and many times he tries to take cover them up by taking the blame.Towards the end of the novel, we see how he takes responsibility for his mother’s crime and is imprisoned.
Aunty Ifeoma is heaven sent. She is the voice of reason.Through her and her kids, the children realize that there is a lot more to the world than what their father has indoctrinated them into believing. Her home becomes a catalyst for Kambili and Jaja.And that is when the silence is lifted.
The high’s of the book: While reading it, i was in for an experience of storytelling heaven.The book is extremely engrossing, engaging and captivating.It takes you to the depths of Kambili’s life, and as you ride the waves, you are forced to empathise with her.Adichie created a story that reaches much further into our own African culture.
The low’s of the book: There were a few things in the book which did not gel well with me.Kambili’s love for her dad was extremely out of sync.She continued to idolize her father even after almost being beaten to death.It left me wondering whether by doing so maybe she thought he would change.The novels ending completely throws me off balance as I am not sure whether Jaja is freed or not. I was looking forward to a “happily ever laughter ending”.
General thoughts: I loved the journey this book took me on and i will read more of this author. It is a powerful book full of universal themes that disregard borders and reflects real human journeys.
Would i recommend: Yes, it is a good fit for anyone who loves a good story.
Let me know what you think of the book if you have read it.
Until next time, Cheers.