Collins Readers - Purple Hibiscus Hardcover – Jan 18 2011
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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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Top Customer Reviews
"Purple Hibiscus" is a coming-of-age story set in Nigeria during the Abacha military regime of the mid-1990s, told through the eyes of 15-year-old Kambili Achike. Kambili's father Eugene, a wealthy Igbo businessman and newspaper publisher, is in many ways a heroic figure; he is a pillar of the church, loyal and generous to his employees and home village and one of the few publishers with the courage to stand up to the military government. The same fanatic religious faith that feeds his stern public morality, however, leads him to ostracize his father and physically abuse his wife and children.
Kambili, who has lived under her father's hand throughout her life, is a shadow of a person as the novel begins. As the story progresses, she learns independence and self-reliance from her university-professor aunt Ifeoma, her teenage cousin Amaka and the iconoclastic priest Father Amadi. At the same time, the deterioration of the country and her father's increasingly abusive behavior drive the family closer to collapse.
"Purple Hibiscus" is a powerful and sophisticated first novel, and comparison between Adichie and Igbo literary giant Chinua Achebe is not out of place. Achebe's novels, though, tend toward the epic, using their characters to tell the story of their country. Adichie has also spoken in this voice, in short stories such as "Half of a Yellow Sun," but "Purple Hibiscus" is a more intimate portrait. Politics sometimes intrudes through scenes of student riots and the persecution of one of Eugene's editors, but most of the political events happen offstage and are seen through their effect on the family. For all the powerful sense of place in "Purple Hibiscus," Kambili's story is one that could happen anywhere.
PURPLE HIBISCUS is the story of a sister and brother, Kambili and Jaja, who, outwardly, seem to have the "perfect life" but who, inwardly, are starving...not physically, but emotionally and spiritually. The family at the center of PURPLE HIBISCUS is a strongly patriarchal family, i.e., it is definitely ruled by the father and the father is nothing if not tyrannical and religiously fanatic. Like many tyrants, Eugene, or "Omelora," as this father is known, is well thought of throughout his village and the surrounding area and is committed to improving both the political and religious scene as well as improving life for the villagers. He's charming and he's warm...but only outside of his own home. Home, for Kambili, Jaja and their mother, Beatrice, is a place of dark secrets, secrets they would never dream of revealing to the "outside world" for a variety of reasons.
Kambili and Jaja do get to escape the joylessness of their own home when they visit their much poorer but happier aunt, Ifeoma, and her children. Even though Ifeoma has trouble just finding enough food to put on the table for her own family, Kambili and Jaja are always welcome and it is there that they discover that life contains joy as well as sorrow. Gradually, Kambili and Jaja learn to relate to others, including their own grandfather, whom they have been forbidden to see because his principles do not conform to those of his son.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Miss Adichie develops her characters to be multifaceted and complex in a setting that is rarely fair but historically accurate. It is well written and I enjoyed it very much. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ame
Beautiful. Great characters. A wonderful insight to a culture that I have not been exposed to.Published 3 months ago by Tathiana Barahona
Chimamanda is a great writer. She is slow. So by slow I mean that she takes her time to get to the point but I enjoyed it because it built up suspense and it made me want to... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Anon
This was a beautiful tale of a girl growing up in Nigeria who comes into her own despite an intense Catholic father. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Kelsi
Great read. Beautifully written. Chimamamanda Ngozi Adichie really takes you into her world. The plot and character development is great. Highly recommend this book.Published 16 months ago by Inga Sophia Knoth
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... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Len
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.Published on Sept. 9 2013 by R. Keeler