Book review: Purple Hibiscus

My rating: 5 / 5
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Country: Nigeria

This was a total refresher. I’ve never read a book about any African country. Its always been India, US, UK. I’m really glad I picked this up after reading Ramya’s review here.

Life in the Nigerian regions, their lifestyles, customs, beliefs, food; you seem to learn so much about the country as you go along and also experience the adolescent feelings of a 15-year old girl. Coming from a wealthy family, all comforts taken care of, it seems like Kambili is living in heaven until you start to read about her father. A reverend and a fanatic at that, he seems to fully control Kambili’s and her brother Jaja’s life. They have a timetable written out for everything that they need to do including when and how much time they need to spend with their own parents and themselves too!

I had goose bumps and could literally “feel” the emotions when the author describes the thoughts running through Kambili’s mind. She loves her father, respects, infact revers him. Yet, at the same time, she is extremely scared of him and at times really wishes her life was different. Once, Kambili comes second in class and is absolutely petrified to tell her father. The punishment that follows is heart wrenching.

A chance trip to her Aunt’s house and she realises what life is after all and what it is she’s really missing out! Her aunt isn’t as affluent as her father. Yet, she knows that they are a happier family than her own. Happiness, laughter, freedom all suddenly seem alien to her. She sulks in silence dumb struck by the beautiful life her cousins are leading.

The political coup and unrest helps Kambili and her brother and their stay is extended.
Although they show their disappoint of not returning home whenever their father calls, they silently thank god for whats happening. As fantasies go, you need a prince charming to awake you and yes, the little Kambili is for the first time infatuated and that too by a priest in their aunt’s neighbourhood. She starts to smile, then laugh. She does infact look into the mirror and spruce up for the first time in her life. She wears shorts and even goes to watch a football match with her crush!

The story is very well phased out. The first part deals with the time after Kambili and her brother return from their aunt’s house as completely different people, much to the agony of their papa. One Palm Sunday when they return back from church and hell breaks loose. The second phase goes back in time to describe their tale. The final part, my favourite bit of the book, is a silent thriller of what follows after the Palm Sunday events.

I loved the descriptions and the way the climax was portrayed. It made me go back again a few pages and re-read the whole thing till the intensity sank in. Simple words, simple sentences – you read them again and you derive a deeper meaning.

Firstly, the title struck me and secondly, it was a debut novel and finally, there were great reviews on this book. I had to pick it up. I am so inspired by budding talents like this. Most of the books I’ve read in recent times have all been debut novels. And I just hope that some day I could publish my own book and read reviews on it!


beesinmybonnet said...

Good going Tej.. Reading so many book eh? Nice nice.. Still waiting for your Kenya trip update!

Tej said...

Very soon ...very soon :)