Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie review

I am amazed at how ignorant are we about Africa and African literature. This was my second book which was set in Nigeria, the first being A man of the people by Chinua Achebe.

The book is set in post colonial Nigeria, which was beset by political instability.

Purple Hibiscus is a powerful book which explores many themes like fanatiscism and coming of age. The story is told through Kambili.

Kambili lives with her family which include her parents, Eugene and Beatrice, and her brother Jaja.

Kambili’s father is a religious fanatic and very strict. He has control over the house and their lives. To the outside world, he is a very generous person. I didn’t like his character much. He is not on talking terms with his father because he is a Pagan or a heathen. He often subjects his wife and his children to beatings and psychological cruelty. He pours boiling hot water on Kambili’s feet because she slept in the same room where a heathen, his father was sleeping. He broke the etagere on his wife’s belly, who was pregnant.

The book is divided in four parts. The book starts with a dispute between Jaja and Eugene. The first few pages of the book are about Kambili and her family.

As the book progresses, the story gets really interesting. But after Aunty Ifeoma’s arrival, life changes for Kambili and Jaja. Aunty Ifeoma is a nice person. Upon her insistence, Eugene allows Kambili and Jaja to stay with her in Nsukka.

At Aunty Ifeoma’s place, Kambili and Jaja are introduced to a totally different lifestyle from what they are used to. Kambili lives in a silent world created by her father and Aunty Ifeoma’s place is extremely noisy, full of laughter and warmth. Kambili, who is used to lavish living, struggles to adjust there. Her cousin, Amaka, mocks her and sneers her rich lifestyle. Here, the key point of the book, Kambili learns to be liberal, open and voice her opinions.

Kambili begins to see a different world and slowly starts to change. She falls in love with Father Amadi, a young, handsome Nigerian priest who is friends with Aunty Ifeoma and her children. He respects his Nigerian roots and blends the old and the new.

A critical point in the book is when Eugene dies and when Aunty Ifeoma has to leave Nigeria for America because she is dismissed from her job as a lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

The novel ends almost after three years of all these events and we see Kambili, a strong and confident woman of eighteen.

The title, Purple Hibiscus is very apt because it denotes freedom. Purple Hibiscuses were grown in Aunty Ifeoma’s garden and that’s where everything changes.

I loved this book and recommend it to everyone who wants to start reading Adichie.

Rating: 5/5

It took me a while to get connected with this book maybe because it was a different culture and story.

The only complaint I have is that the book should’ve had a glossary of Igbo words. Google translate didn’t help everytime.

3 thoughts on “Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie review

  1. A Book World! says:

    Cool review! Inspired me to write my own haha ๐Ÿ˜… finished this book a week ago and still struggling to start drafting. (Was my first read of any of her work, as well.) I loved it as much as you did, really. Adichieโ€™s such a brilliant writer! ๐Ÿ’•


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