Publisher: Algonquin Books
Source: Personal Read
Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother seem to live in a world of luxury in Nigeria. Their father, a self-made man found Catholicism and devoted his life to the religion. He’s a wealthy man, but in actuality, he is a religious fanatic who shelters and controls his families every move. Kambili and Jaja have their daily lives scheduled for them, and they must never deviate from his plan. When political unrest sends Nigeria into a military coup, the family is threatened and their father sends them to live with his sister who lives a very different life.
Kambili and Jaja live in a very abusive household, both physically and mentally. I really felt for Kambili, she begins the novel truly worshiping her father. She sees him as a respected man, a man who has all the answers and just wants to make him proud. When she ranks second in her class, her father beats her because his children must be the best. In her mind she accepts the pain and feels it is her fault. Her brother is a little more independent but has nowhere to do. It’s either obey, or suffer the circumstances. Their own mother is a victim, she’s helpless and treats her children’s wounds the best she can.
Adichie writes a beautiful coming of age story, filled with abuse, breaking free and forgiveness. Kambili’s father is a monster, but he’s like that for a reason. He truly believes what he is doing is right. His perception of his religion blinds him. He loves his family, but can’t separate himself from what he thinks a good Christian should be. He’s a dictator in his household but he gives generously to the community and his church, everyone showers him with compliments. Kambili loves her father, and her love never falters for her father clearly depicting a grey area, not every relationship is black or white.
This is an amazing debut novel, and I’m so glad that I read it. I’m really trying to read back-list titles, and not just the new releases. I kept hearing about Americanah and decided to start with this one instead. Americanah is on my tbr list, but so is all her other titles. Purple Hibiscus is a valuable novel about Nigerian culture, religion, and character growth. I highly recommend this one.