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Bookworm is taking Honors English this year, and while I’ve read most of the short stories and plays he’ll be reading, I haven’t read many of the novels, so I plan to read along with him. The first novel he had to read was Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and boy, was it a deep, disturbing one!
About Purple Hibiscus
Kambili is a 15 year old girl living in Nigeria with her older brother, Jaja, and her mom and dad. In some ways, she is lucky–Papa runs several successful businesses, which gives the family a comfortable standard of living, compared to many others in Nigeria who are struggling such as Papa’s sister, Aunty Ifeoma. Papa is also a deeply religious man, and he is an honored man of the church.
A Secret Behind Closed Doors
Yet, that is where the good luck ends. Behind closed doors, Papa is an abusive man to his wife and kids. He sets up rigid schedules that the children must follow, and if they don’t come first in their class every semester, there are serious repercussions. Kambili never questions the way things are–that’s just the way they’ve always been.
Papa’s violence is at times startling, as is Kambili’s reaction to it.
A Taste of Freedom
Later, Aunt Ifeoma persuades Papa to let Kambili and Jaja stay with her for a week to visit a holy place near her. Papa reluctantly agrees, and the family is never the same after that.
While at Aunt Ifeoma’s, Kambili, who is always so silent, sees the way other teenagers live and freely express themselves with no repercussions. This scares her as does the fact that Jaja embraces his new freedom and goes home less able to tolerate Papa’s rigidity.
A few months later, life as the family had previously known it changes. Their world turns upside down.
I loved this book and plan to read more of the author’s books. I loved to see Kambili finally find joy and self-worth. I liked reading about the history of Nigeria, even if it was very difficult. While reading this book, you will feel oppressed; it’s impossible not to. The book is also disturbing, but in the end, Kambili is like a butterfly released to fly wherever she would like.
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.