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Collins Readers - Purple Hibiscus [Hardcover]

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 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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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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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent first novel Oct. 7 2003
Those who know Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from her short stories have high expectations of her. "Purple Hibiscus" lives up to expectations.
"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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Lovely and Poignant Debut, 4 1/2 Stars March 27 2004
I love novels set in Africa...almost any part of Africa. I loved Ben Okri's THE FAMISHED ROAD, the "Mma Ramotswe" detective novels of Alexander McCall Smith, and the novels of Chinua Achebe and Nuruddin Farah, so I was very eager to read PURPLE HIBISCUS, a debut novel by twenty-five year old Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I am happy to say I wasn't disappointed.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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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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5.0 out of 5 stars a remarkable, lyrical book- a must-read Jan. 14 2004
A journalist from the Times in London remarks that this is the best debut novel he has read since Arundhati Roy's 'The God of Small Things'. Indeed, this is a remarkable first novel by a 26 year author. Writing from the heart and no doubt using her experiences growing up in Nigeria, Adichie has produced a book that makes you intimately share every experience of Kambili, the narrator. You are enraged at the abuse she suffers from her father, a zealot who loves his children in his own twisted way while disowning his father for not converting to Catholicism. You feel the pangs of a first, forbidden love with her. You share her very existence as a girl who is perceived to be so rich and fortunate- but who cannot even linger to talk to friends at school or watch television or listen to pop music.
This is a beautiful novel. The characters are complex and thought-provoking. I could not figure out the father character, how he seems to genuinely love his wife and kids and even suffer along as he inflicts terrible pain and torture on them. In contrast are his sister, Aunty Ifeoma, and her lively kids who may want for material things but whose spirits soar. In the background is the turmoil of Nigeria- the corruption, the politics, the shortage of fuel, the power cuts, the unrest.
When I reached the end of the book, I found myself hoping for a sequel. What happens next to Kambili, Jaja and Aunty Ifeoma's family? Someone said that you know a book is good when you reach the end and feel you have lost a friend. I felt a bit like that on the last page. Highly recommended.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written. Great read.
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 13 days ago by Inga Sophia Knoth
4.0 out of 5 stars Despite a backdrop of social unrest, “Purple Hibiscus” is a story...
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 more
Published 6 months ago by Len
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely read!
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 13 months ago by Rebecca Keeler
5.0 out of 5 stars The Purple Hibiscus
Reading the Purple Hibiscus was like taking a journey back in time to my childhood days in West Africa. It is totally engrossing.
Published 13 months ago by Percy Christon-Quao
4.0 out of 5 stars You Just Gotta Read This Book!
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... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Louise Jolly
5.0 out of 5 stars Purple prose
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. Read more
Published on Nov. 11 2007 by Cannesta, Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent novel
If you're one for great writing, and reading about family dysfunction, then PURPLE HIBISCUS is the book for you. Read more
Published on Sept. 22 2006 by D. Kauffman
5.0 out of 5 stars Electrifying read
Purple Hibiscus is a beautiful story. The plot is based on a 14 year-old who grew up under the stifling patronage of a stern father. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2005 by Siti
4.0 out of 5 stars Great debut novel, and good story of Nigeria
Adichie's "Purple Hibiscus" will join other notable first novels like "Things Fall Apart" in the canon of great African literature. Read more
Published on May 13 2004 by Peter LaPrade
5.0 out of 5 stars an excellent debut
"Purple Hibiscus" is the debut novel from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It is the story of Kambili and her family. Read more
Published on May 4 2004 by Joe Sherry
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