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Collins Readers - Purple Hibiscus [Hardcover]

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 18 2011 Collins Readers
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche tells the evocative story of 15-year old Kambili's life growing up in Nigeria during a military coup. This set text for AQA GCSE is an ideal reader for any Key Stage 4 classroom. The limits of fifteen-year-old Kambili's world are defined by the high walls of her family estate and the dictates of her repressive father. Her life is regulated by schedules: prayer, sleep, study, and more prayer. When Nigeria begins to fall apart during a military coup, Kambili's father is involved mysteriously in the political crisis, while Kambili and her brother are sent away to live with their aunt. In this house, full of energy and laughter, Kambili discovers life and love - and a terrible, bruising secret deep within her family. Centring on the promise of freedom and the pain and exhilaration of adolescence, Purple Hibiscus is the extraordinary debut of a Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the prize-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

By turns luminous and horrific, this debut ensnares the reader from the first page and lingers in the memory long after its tragic end. First-person narrator Kambili Achike is a 15-year-old Nigerian girl growing up in sheltered privilege in a country ravaged by political strife and personal struggle. She and her brother, Jaja, and their quiet mother, who speaks "the way a bird eats, in small amounts," live this life of luxury because Kambili's father is a wealthy man who owns factories, publishes a politically outspoken newspaper and outwardly leads the moral, humble life of a faithful Catholic. The many grateful citizens who have received his blessings and material assistance call him omelora, "The One Who Does for the Community." Yet Kambili, Jaja and their mother see a side to their provider no one else does: he is also a religious fanatic who regularly and viciously beats his family for the mildest infractions of his interpretation of an exemplary Christian life. The children know better than to discuss their home life with anyone else; "there was so much that we never told." But when they are unexpectedly allowed to visit their liberated and loving Aunty Ifeoma, a widowed university professor raising three children, family secrets and tensions bubble dangerously to the surface, setting in motion a chain of events that allow Kambili to slowly blossom as she begins to question the authority of the precepts and adults she once held sacred. In a soft, searing voice, Adichie examines the complexities of family, faith and country through the haunted but hopeful eyes of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood. Lush, cadenced and often disconcerting, this is an accomplished first effort.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Kambili, 15, and her older brother, Jaja, live under a brutal dictatorship in their native Nigeria and also in their home. Their father beats them and their mother for the slightest perceived offense. Papa is also a fanatic Christian who gives freely of his immense wealth and is admired by all. The children's world changes when they are allowed to visit their Aunty Ifeoma, who teaches in a university town nearby and lives a relaxed life on little money. Her children talk back, have messy rooms, and help cook wonderful food. And their beloved grandfather, Papa-Nnukwu, favors the old gods. Kambili meets Father Amadi, a liberal priest, and falls in love with him. Upon Nnukwu's death, Papa arrives to take them home, but Jaja now questions his authority, and when Papa finds Kambili with a picture of her heathen grandfather, he kicks and beats her so severely that she is hospitalized. Mama poisons Papa's food, but Jaja confesses to the murder and is imprisoned. The Nigerian government falls; Aunty Ifeoma loses her job and leaves with her children for America; and Father Amadi leaves for his next assignment. Yet there is hope that after three years in prison, Jaja will be released, and Mama finally smiles. Aunty Ifeoma and their cousins have brought joy and laughter to Kambili and Jaja, and that cannot be taken away. This is a harsh story, almost unbearable at first, but beautifully written.
Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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First Sentence
Things started to fall apart at home when my brother, Jaja, did not go to communion and Papa flung his heavy missal across the room and broke the figurines on the etagere. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars powerful, sad and hopeful Aug. 18 2013
By Verna R
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
After listening to her TED talk, I wanted to read this author as well as other authors from different countries than my own. Thanks for the inspiration.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is actually a young adult fiction title - but it'd be a shame to limit its depth and complexity to teens, so is reviewed here as a recommended pick for adult readers as well. Set in Nigeria, it tells of a privileged teen and her older brother who find themselves increasingly at odds with their father's religious fanatic ways. When the kids visit their aunt, it's to enter a new world of freedom and laugher - just as a military coup threatens the country. Inner and outer turmoil blend in this complex story of politics, religion, and change.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dreary dark tale... Oct. 26 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I had every intention of wanting to love this book but will alone wouldn't suffice. It is dreary, seemingly long for it's relative size. Until the very end Kambali and her mother come across as weak and needy women enduring endless beatings while continuing to have a twisted reverence for their husband/father. The story has a depressing flatline rhythm. One that would be better to get from the library or wait for paperback.
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By Len TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
The 1990s were turbulent times in Nigeria with one political coup following another; when the government executed writer and journalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa who spoke out about the environmental degradation of the Niger Delta. In "Purple Hibiscus," Eugene Achike is a wealthy factory owner who publishes “The Standard,” a newspaper that speaks out about the anti-democratic practices of the government. That being said, “Purple Hibiscus” examines the dynamics of the Achike family and not the political events of the time. Eugene’s 15-year-old daughter, Kambili, narrates a life so sheltered that she perceives nothing unusual about her devoutly Catholic father rages when her brother Jaja leaves the dinner table without permission. Nor does she question the slaps he gives her when she scores second in the class on her report card; or the regular beatings he inflicts on her mother. Her perception of her father is more like that of the community that sees him as a generous benefactor to the church, kind to the needy and willing the stand up for the rights of the disenfranchised.
Kambili’s life is changed when are her Aunt Ifeoma invites her and her brother to visit her home during a semester break. There, she experiences freedom for the first time after having her every minute of her life timetabled by her father. With the cousins she hardly knows, she listens to contemporary music for the first time, develops a crush for the local priest and lives with her grandfather who her father has allowed her only 15 minutes to visit his heathen premises.
Despite a backdrop of social unrest, “Purple Hibiscus” is a story where family trumps politics in the life of its characters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely read! Sept. 9 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wonderful insight into life in Nigeria. Honest and beautifully written. You will see Africa in a new light as your horizons will certainly be expanded.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Purple Hibiscus Sept. 3 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Reading the Purple Hibiscus was like taking a journey back in time to my childhood days in West Africa. It is totally engrossing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars You Just Gotta Read This Book! May 8 2013
By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Story Description:

Knopf Canada|March 26, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-345-80752-6

Fifteen-year-old Kambili's world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound. Her wealthy Catholic father, under whose shadow Kambili lives, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.

When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili's father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father's authority. The visit will lift the silence from their world and, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways. This is a book about the promise of freedom, about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood, between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new.

My Review:

Fifteen-year-old Kambili's home life began to fall apart when her older brother, seventeen-year-old, Jaja, didn't attend communion at church. Their father, Eugene was a devoutly religious man. He was so enraged about his son's dismissal of communion that he threw his heavy missal across the room and smashed the figurines on the table. Kambili's father was always first to receive communion and the only one of the parishioners to kneel at the altar.

Father Benedict had been the priest at their church for seven years now but because he was white, the congregation still referred to him as "our new priest." He often held up Kambili's father, Eugene as an example to other congregants due to his dedication and for speaking out for freedom.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Purple prose Nov. 11 2007
Format:Paperback
I don't seem to be able to pick a bad book lately. "Bitter is the New Black" was the last one I read and that was funny AND disturbing on so many levels. And talk about something completely different. "PURPLE HIBISCUS" is not like anything i've ever read before. It is a great story, though it is upsetting and very horrific at points, much like McCrae's "Tour of Southern Homes and Gardens" or the book "Blood Meridian." Still, give it a try. The story centers around a teenage girl who grows up under the most horrible father. She's physically abused and all this happens in Nigeria--not the most stable place in the world. So not only is life inside the home a living hell, but life on the outside is not much better. Her realization that this is not a normal life is a hard transition for her, but with all the complex political and religious struggles going on, I can't imagine how she did it. The story is very touching and you'll love the ending. This is one book you won't be able to put down.
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