Purple Hibiscus – Book Review

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 -From Purple Hibiscus, page 16-

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel – Purple Hibiscus– is a poignant, beautifully written story. It is narrated by Kambili, a 15 year old Nigerian girl who grows up with her brother, Jaja, amid domestic violence, religious fanaticism and political unrest. Kambili and Jaja’s father, Eugene, is a well-respected and wealthy man who gives generously to his church and community; and as the publisher of a liberal newspaper, he speaks out against the tyranny of a new government following a coup. But, Adichie reveals a dark side to Eugene as he elevates his religious faith to something horrifying and tragic. As the story unfolds, we watch through Kambili’s eyes as she matures and is transformed into a girl able to see beauty in a world full of cruelty, able to find love where she least expects it, and ultimately to realize hope amid tragedy. Lyrical, honest, exquisitely crafted and with an ending that stuns the reader … Purple Hibiscus will resonate with those who appreciate an authentic tale. Highly recommended.

The following are exceptional passages from Purple Hibiscus…

About Aunty Ifeoma:

Aunty Ifeoma drove into the compound just as we finished breakfast. When she barged into the dining room upstairs, I imagined a proud ancient forebear, walking miles to fetch water in homemade clay pots, nursing babies until they walked and talked, fighting wars with machetes sharpened on sun-warmed stone. She filled a room “Are you ready, Jaja and Kambili?” she asked. “Nwunye m, will you not come with us?”

Papa-Nnukwu’s wisdom:

“This is what our people say to the high God, the Chukwu,” Papa-Nnukwu said. “Give me both wealth and a child, but if I must choose one, give me a child because when my child grows, so will my wealth.”

About joy:

The afternoon played across my mind as I got out of the car in front of the flat. 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 yellow cashew fruit.

About freedom:

She picked up an enterprising snail that was crawling out of the open basket. She threw it back in and muttered, “God take power from the devil.” I wondered if it was the same snail, crawling out, being thrown back in, and then crawling out again. Determined. I wanted to buy the whole basket and set that one snail free.

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    • Anonymous on January 30, 2007 at 14:06

    I can’t wait to read Half a Yellow Sun, it looks like I will need to add Purple Hibiscus to my TBR pile as well! Great review!

    • Anonymous on January 30, 2007 at 15:04

    I’m so happy I “discovered” this author. She has an amazing gift! Someone mentioned she is writing her third novel…I don’t know when it is scheduled for publication, but I will be looking for it. Let me know what you think of these two books when you are done reading them!

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