Sunday, December 14, 2008

Purple Hibiscus

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Pages : 307
My Rating : 2.5/5

After reading a couple of excellent reviews about this book I decided to pick it up as part of my Orbis Terrarum Challenge. This one is a debut novel of a Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie, who is also the author of 'Half of a Yellow Sun' , winner of the Orange Broadbank Prize for Fiction-2007. Amazon reviews give a rating of 4.5/5 for Purple Hibiscus, but for some reason I just didnt enjoy this as much as I thought I would. Maybe I had very high expecations from it! Nevertheless I would still recommend it if you enjoy fiction a lot and you are interested to know more about the life in Nigeria - politics, social customs, food, The book also has a strong message - it emphasizes on the role of the family in the formation of children's lives, the importance of a loving and caring atmosphere in the household and the effects of monstrous discipline...

The book is about a 15-year old girl Kambili, the daughter of an affluent man who is a Catholic patriarch doing a lot for the community. There are thousands of citizens who are showered with his blessings and help and look up to him like he is God. Yet Kambili, Jaja (her brother) and their mother see a violent side of him which no one else does.
Kambili and her brother are forced to live with their widowed aunt and cousins, due to a political coup in Nigeria. During their stay, Kambili feels unexpectedly liberated and unravels the aspects of her life and personality which never seemed to have existed... **spoiler ahead ** Even after I finished reading the book, there were a lot of questions unanswered. Certain things left me confused. Am not sure if the author wanted it to be that way or if I missed out something. There is one incident towards the end where Kambili's mother poisons her father and kills him but the blame is taken by Jaja, who is driven to prison. I never really got the actual reason behind this killing. Was it because he turned more and more violent that Kambili's mom could not bear it anymore? That's the only explanation I could come up with. If you have read the book and have some opinions I would love to know your views on this..

It took me some time to figure out why the author chose the title 'Purple Hibiscus'. I couldn't draw an analogy to the story but after pondering over it for a while I realized that the blooming of the hibiscus flower is used to describe the way Kambili's life blossoms when she starts living with her aunt.. as Kambili slowly transforms from a young girl into a woman.. So that's a nice one, I liked it!

If you want another opinion on this book, here's a review by Ramya ..

If you have read this book already and reviewed it, let me know and I'll add a link to your post.

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