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Purple Hibiscus: A Novel Paperback – April 17, 2012
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“The author's straightforward prose captures the tragic riddle of a man who has made an unquestionably positive contribution to the lives of strangers while abandoning the needs of those who are closest to him.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Prose as lush as the Nigerian landscape that it powerfully evokes . . . Adichie's understanding of a young girl's heart is so acute that her story ultimately rises above its setting and makes her little part of Nigeria seem as close and vivid as Eudora Welty's Mississippi.” —The Boston Globe
“Amazing.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
From the Inside Flap
Fifteen-year-old Kambili's world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound. Her wealthy Catholic father, under whose shadow Kambili lives, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.
When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili's father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father's authority. The visit will lift the silence from their world and, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways. This is a book about the promise of freedom; about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood; between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new.
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With the backdrop of an abusive head of family, the violence within the family is a symbol for the violence and abuse of the government. Kambili and her brother, JaJa, have to bear the wrath of their fundamental Catholic father, who also abuses his wife, their mother. Kambili retains her dignity and strength through her teenage years and comes out stronger in the end.
I learned so much not only about the government but of ordinary citizens in their struggle to live normal, loving lives. The very rich and the poor are portrayed equally well in this novel and I felt like the author has rare talent of putting the reader inside the head of her main character, 15 year old Kambili.
As for Adichie’s writing in the novel, her style and imagery created a beautiful depiction of Nigeria, often using personification. She showed appreciation for and celebration of Nigeria, resisting the mystification and other descriptions that have been used by colonial writers. She does similar work to Chinua Achebe as she infuses the Igbo language and the English language and writes her own version of the history of colonialism and its effects. Her work also shows similarity with the work of Tsitsi Dangarembga as she using a coming of age story to highlight the acquired hybridity and other elements of postcolonial identity. I would definitely recommend this book!