Purple hibiscus : a novel /

Main Author: Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi, 1977-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Chapel Hill : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2003.
Edition: 1st ed.
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Review by Booklist Review

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother, Jaja, live a regal life in impoverished Nigeria. Their father is a very powerful man who owns many factories, lavishes money on his church and the local schools, and publishes a newspaper that is outspokenly critical of the country's repressive regime. But their marble palace often feels like a prison because the children are terrified of their father's temper; at home, he is a religious tyrant who exerts a fanatical control over their schedules and often beats their mother. They are overjoyed when their father unexpectedly allows them to visit his sister, Ifeoma, whose three children are quick to laugh, engage in vehement discussions, and pitch in to help the family cope with food and petrol shortages. Kambili, who is almost rendered mute in the presence of her boisterous cousins, slowly starts to open up. This impressive first novel is redolent in its depiction of the Nigerian countryside and generates a palpable narrative tension over what's to become of Kambili and Jaja's newfound sense of freedom. --Joanne Wilkinson Copyright 2003 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

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. Author tour. (Oct. 17) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Fifteen-year-old Kambili lives comfortably with her parents and older brother, Jaja, in Enugu, Nigeria. Respected and generous with his money, her fanatically religious father is nevertheless cruel when his wife and children do not live up to his lofty expectations. When Kambili and Jaja visit their widowed aunt Ifeoma in the impoverished countryside, they endure many privations but finally enjoy the pleasures of a warm and loving family. They are even able to spend time with their beloved grandfather, whom their father has denounced as a heathen. Having grown up in Nigeria, Adichie speaks tellingly of the country's political and military problems, which serve to exacerbate escalating tensions within Kambili's family. The stunning denouement underscores the power of family love. Written with great sensitivity, this debut shows why Adichie has already won several awards (e.g., the Caine Prize for African Writing). Recommended for all libraries.-Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Kambili, 15, and her older brother, Jaja, live under a brutal dictatorship in their native Nigeria and also in their home. Their father beats them and their mother for the slightest perceived offense. Papa is also a fanatic Christian who gives freely of his immense wealth and is admired by all. The children's world changes when they are allowed to visit their Aunty Ifeoma, who teaches in a university town nearby and lives a relaxed life on little money. Her children talk back, have messy rooms, and help cook wonderful food. And their beloved grandfather, Papa-Nnukwu, favors the old gods. Kambili meets Father Amadi, a liberal priest, and falls in love with him. Upon Nnukwu's death, Papa arrives to take them home, but Jaja now questions his authority, and when Papa finds Kambili with a picture of her heathen grandfather, he kicks and beats her so severely that she is hospitalized. Mama poisons Papa's food, but Jaja confesses to the murder and is imprisoned. The Nigerian government falls; Aunty Ifeoma loses her job and leaves with her children for America; and Father Amadi leaves for his next assignment. Yet there is hope that after three years in prison, Jaja will be released, and Mama finally smiles. Aunty Ifeoma and their cousins have brought joy and laughter to Kambili and Jaja, and that cannot be taken away. This is a harsh story, almost unbearable at first, but beautifully written.-Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Earnest debut about a 15-year-old girl's struggle to blossom under the tyranny of her father's--and country's--strong arm. Kambili and her older brother Jaja live a luxurious life in Nigeria as the only children of a powerful man. Their father virtually supports his home village, owns factories, and, most importantly, owns the newspaper that champions free speech and the rights of the people at a time when silence is far safer. Papa is a hero. But at home in their quiet marble palace, Kambili and Jaja live in fear of regular beatings: "lessons" on how to become more pious Catholics. Mama's miscarriages are the result of these, and Jaja has a deformed finger. The three are forever in danger of breaking the rules but are never quite sure what the rules are. Papa begrudgingly allows Kambili and her brother to visit his sister Ifeoma, and the trip, the first time away from their parents, is a revelation to the siblings. Widowed Auntie Ifeoma is a university professor and mother of her own three markedly different children. Though poor, Auntie Ifeoma's house is filled with laughter, discussion, opinions and freedom, so different from the tightly regimented schedule Kambili and Jaja are used to that at first Kambili barely opens her mouth. Slowly (and with the help of young Father Amadi, whom she develops a crush on), Kambili begins to enjoy life a little. Alongside Kambili's narrative is a portrayal of the sad state of contemporary African politics--the poverty-inducing corruption, rioting, and uncertainty of basic needs. Like many first-novelists, Adichie tries for too much; her portrayal of Kambili's home life is striking but provides far too incomplete a depiction of Papa. Her portrait of Nigeria is fascinating but fragmented. Auntie Ifeoma and the cousins are likable enough but not memorable. Nonetheless, with Kambili the author has created a compelling narrative--and a surprising punch at end. A young African voice welcome to American shores. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.