Book Review: Purple Hibiscus

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer who debuted her talents with Purple Hibiscus. The novel takes place in Nigeria during a time of political turmoil (it is postcolonial, though I'm not sure the year) and centers on a young girl named Kambili. Kambili's father is a devout Catholic who is very strict, abusive, and enforces a very structured lifestyle in his household. When Kambili and her brother Jaja visit their aunt for awhile, they experience a bubbly, happy family for the first time and the fragile life they have at home begins to deteriorate. The 15-year-old Kambili must learn to blossom from a shy teenager to a confident young woman amongst the turmoil.

Purple Hibiscus reminded me a little of Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin. I loved that it was peppered with Igbo words and phrases, one of the things that took me away from comparing it to Go Tell It On The Mountain and grounded me in a different location. As a Protestant, I found myself out of touch with the Catholic aspects of the book, but it only made me side with the main character more. I found the end of the book to be much more interesting and satisfying than the beginning. Having read raving reviews of Ms. Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah, I decided to give this book a try when I saw it on the shelf. While I liked the novel, and would recommend it, I think I expected more. All things considered, I am still likely to read her other novels.


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