Books, Film, Etc

Friday, 19 January 2018

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie



I reread Purple Hibiscus on a long ass coach journey last week and couldn't believe I'd forgotten everything about it ! In my defence, I was pretty young when I first picked it up, probably about 13, and just don't think I was emotionally prepared to really process this story. Now, I've been waiting for a new Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie book forever and I 100% do Google at least twice a month, to see if one's coming. Sigh. But reading this was like reading it for the first time.

We follow 15 year old Kambili and her brother Jaja, who are growing up in a strict household in post-colonial Nigeria. Their father, Eugene is a religious zealot who subjects his family to emotional and physical abuse and uses his Catholicism to control them.  Kambili and Jaja take a trip to visit their Auntie Ifeoma and her 3 children, where they're suddenly exposed to a world of laughter and freedom. And soon enough, Kambili starts to change as the family begins to unravel.

Purple Hibiscus is first and foremost Kambili's coming of age story. Growing up in a house that expects her to be silent, she's quite socially awkward and isolated at school. The book is also about family and how a family can hurt and scar you in the deepest of ways but can also heal you. Chimamanda's writing is so poetic and engaging in a way that doesn't take away from the story telling. I normally struggle to focus when writers are trying to do the absolute most, to say the simplest things. And I think Chimamanda strikes that balance really nicely in every book she's written. She's also able to navigate the political situation in post-colonial Ngeria and we've it seamlessly into the story without taking away from the main plot.

Kambili's Auntie is also a Catholic and I have to say, it was a relief to see that Catholicism wasn't going to be painted in a really bad light. Yes on one hand you Eugene who represents what can happen when you, in an extreme sense, replace faith with "religion"; how it can consume you. And on the other hand, we see how Christianity can bring joy.

5/5
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