Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

                Kambili lives within the walls of her family’s compound. She follows the schedule provided to her by her father, tries to accomplish first in her class every term and ignores the sounds of her mother being beaten. Kambili has felt her father’s anger before too. Her brother JaJa is also no stranger to her father’s hands and the belt. Her father wants them to be as close to God as possible and when they fail, he punishes them out of love. Her father is a very wealthy, very well-known man and depended on by the people of his home village. Whenever they return he brings food and money to the village and shuns his own father, Kambili’s grandfather, accusing him of being a heathen for not converting to Catholicism like he has. When the government begins to fall around them he allows Kambili and JaJa to travel away for the first time, spending a week with his sister and her children. It is there Kambili learns what it’s like to live outside her father’s control, listening to music and watching TV, pastimes she was never allowed to enjoy. That is also where she realizes just how unhappy she has been for most of her life, seeking approval from a man who has caused her so much harm out of love.
                Sometimes you don’t know that you have been hurting until you have been removed from the source of that pain. That seems obvious with Kambili and her narrative. Always seeking approval from her father, she had no idea the kind of psychological trauma she was experiencing under him. She had no concept of what normal was. The wealth that she was always privy to meant security but it never guaranteed happiness. When placed in an environment completely different than what she has ever known Kambili slowly starts to realize how unhappy she had been. I enjoyed Kambili’s narrative. Her naiveté was painful at first but it made her growth that much more endearing. She was constantly reexamining her family, mulling over their life and their views.

                Adichie did a really amazing job with this story. From character development to world development, to examining religion and its effect on Kambili’s family. Everything was so well fleshed out and so well executed. As the reader, I realized very early on how convoluted Kambili’s father was and how manipulative he was towards those around him. Reading Kambili’s journey and watching her discover the truth behind her happiness was really intriguing and really well paced. The subtlety of Adichie’s writing lends itself really well to this story. I give this 4 out of 5 stars.  


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