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Purple Hibiscus: A Novel Paperback – April 17, 2012
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Purple Hibiscus, Nigerian-born writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's debut, begins like many novels set in regions considered exotic by the western reader: the politics, climate, social customs, and, above all, food of Nigeria (balls of fufu rolled between the fingers, okpa bought from roadside vendors) unfold like the purple hibiscus of the title, rare and fascinating. But within a few pages, these details, however vividly rendered, melt into the background of a larger, more compelling story of a joyless family. Fifteen-year-old Kambili is the dutiful and self-effacing daughter of a rich man, a religious fanatic and domestic tyrant whose public image is of a politically courageous newspaper publisher and philanthropist. No one in Papa's ancestral village, where he is titled "Omelora" (One Who Does For the Community), knows why Kambili¹s brother cannot move one of his fingers, nor why her mother keeps losing her pregnancies. When a widowed aunt takes an interest in Kambili, her family begins to unravel and re-form itself in unpredictable ways. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
By turns luminous and horrific, this debut ensnares the reader from the first page and lingers in the memory long after its tragic end. First-person narrator Kambili Achike is a 15-year-old Nigerian girl growing up in sheltered privilege in a country ravaged by political strife and personal struggle. She and her brother, Jaja, and their quiet mother, who speaks "the way a bird eats, in small amounts," live this life of luxury because Kambili's father is a wealthy man who owns factories, publishes a politically outspoken newspaper and outwardly leads the moral, humble life of a faithful Catholic. The many grateful citizens who have received his blessings and material assistance call him omelora, "The One Who Does for the Community." Yet Kambili, Jaja and their mother see a side to their provider no one else does: he is also a religious fanatic who regularly and viciously beats his family for the mildest infractions of his interpretation of an exemplary Christian life. The children know better than to discuss their home life with anyone else; "there was so much that we never told." But when they are unexpectedly allowed to visit their liberated and loving Aunty Ifeoma, a widowed university professor raising three children, family secrets and tensions bubble dangerously to the surface, setting in motion a chain of events that allow Kambili to slowly blossom as she begins to question the authority of the precepts and adults she once held sacred. In a soft, searing voice, Adichie examines the complexities of family, faith and country through the haunted but hopeful eyes of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood. Lush, cadenced and often disconcerting, this is an accomplished first effort.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Adiche write elegantly and beautifully through the eyes of a seemingly privileged Nigerian teenager. The style is simple, the descriptions lovely and atmospheric, but the themes are deep and disturbing. While I agree that the themes of fanaticism and abuse could have been found in any setting and that the children's silence is so typical of the abused, (I saw this as a teacher for 35 years.) I would say the Nigerian setting is also essential, because the tyranny goes beyond just the family and crosses over into the description of the love of the beauty and culture of Nigeria while at the same time showing the horrible abuse suffered by its citizens at the hands of a strong arm dictatorship. The children, in the same way loved their father (Nigeria) while fearing his cruelty (the violence of the Nigerian society in recent years.) Just as the only way out of family abuse is to escape, Jaja, Kambili and their mother have to escape, but in the most tragic of ways. The only way out of the abuse of a dictatorial regime is to escape to another place, as happens with their Auntie and her family. This was my first book by Adiche and I will definitely be reading more.
A purple hibiscus is a rare flower. In the book we find that a hibiscus while beautiful and seemingly fragile can survive in the most difficult of circumstances. Just so, fragile children, fragile women, and indeed fragile families made so by strong men can survive.
Adichie takes a look once again at life in the big man lane in Nigeria. But she also keenly notes the suffering of families and of children. Most exciting perhaps is her insightful look into how families come to grips with the rituals of the traditional and the rituals of the new. The reader also learns how a man’s yearning for the perfect family perfectly corrupts the family he has; how his desire for his children not only to achieve but overachieve throw him and his family into chaos.
I give an enthusiastic thumbs up to this sister of the Diaspora as she seeks to inform, to entertain and to tell what is true. Great reading.
There was nothing I disliked about this book (other than wanting it be a sequel. I need to know what happens next). The characters were relatable (especially Kambili and Jaja). The plot was well planned and had proper twists and turns as any work of fiction should. The attention to detail and description of the settings was impeccable and not overwhelming. All fiction should feel like real life...This book achieves this effortlessly.
Truly a pleasure to read. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to dive into true African culture. I recommend this to anyone just looking for something good to read for a change. I recommend this to my conscious brothers and sisters. This is an amazing read and will make a great gift.
The beauty of this novel is in the young heroine, Kambili's, ability to survive and love despite the world she is forced to live in.
There are hints only of what religion did to warp her father into the abusive husband and father that he is. Some of the story is hard to believe, but I suspect it is all too true. When I lived in Mali, friends were deathly afraid of horses. They explained that when they were very young, priests enjoyed Sunday afternoon games of chasing them down on horseback. What is it in religion that can warp a "god loving" man into a monster?