Purple hibiscus – Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi

In her first novel, Chimamanda Adichie-Ngozi takes us through the life of 15 year old Kambili and her brother Jaja (Chukwuka) in Enugu, Nigeria. Adichie-Ngozi develops Kambili’s character around church, family and school. Her father, Eugene, a wealthy factory owner and devout Catholic, was raised in the missionary and is a believer in religious practices. He despises anyone who isn’t religious including Kambili’s grandfather, Papa-Nnukwu who is a traditionalist.

Kambili narrates her story about abuse from her father for sleeping in the same house as a heathen (Papa-Nnukwu) and not confessing their sins.

The novel is based on emotional and mental strain, love and forgiveness. The theme of family comes to play when we’re introduced to Aunty Ifeoma, Eugene’s widowed outspoken sister who lives in Nsukka with her three children. She is the crack of love and support by asserting that Kambili and Jaja have to know their cousins. A relationship of ridicule and judgement unveils as the cousins are less fortunate and critic the behaviour of Kambili and her brother. Soon they start to blend in and appreciate life for what it’s worth, outside of their father’s house over the school holidays.

Purple hibiscus is a heart-breaking and absorbing book, there are no fictional flaws. Chimamanda defines the downfall of the family, pulling the reader towards a tragic ending. This is her forth book that I’ve read and in writing Adichie familiarises the reader about life in Nigeria.  She never leaves me feeling like I do not understand the facet of life there. She has a way of balancing her storyline by being descriptive while never allowing the descriptions to be dull. I enjoyed aunty Ifeoma characters, her personality was loud and assertive. I sensed that Adichie added a hint of herself in this woman. I cried a lot because of the fathers conduct, I felt that he failed from day one with his authoritarian style of parenting. He broke his family because he too was broken. It’s a simple and easy read, a careful craft of great writing. A well-executed first novel which I highly recommend that you read cover to cover.