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Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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Purple Hibiscus (original 2003; edition 2008)

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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2,085983,170 (3.99)1 / 445
Member:pokarekareana
Title:Purple Hibiscus
Authors:Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Info:HARPER PERENNIAL (2008), Paperback, 307 pages
Collections:Already Read, Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Acquired in 2009/earlier, @2011

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Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2003)

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English (91)  Finnish (2)  Norwegian (1)  French (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (98)
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
I read this book with my book club, the first one since I joined. It is very different from anything I would usually pick up, which is all to the good. I found a wonderfully evocative, richly worded story, with plenty of food for thought about corruption - whether of the human spirit or of a more practical bent.

Ms Adichie starts with a particular event, then skips back to what led up to it. This device kept me anticipating the worst as it unfolded, until I'd quite forgotten the event as we met the families and friends of the main character, Kimbali. At the heart of the narrative are the corruption and ineptitude of the Nigerian Government, and the outward largesse of Kimbali's Christian father and his inward cruelty in the name of devotion to God. Such are the hypocracies of the Catholic church that have plagued it in recent years, if not forever. These are balanced by the humanity of her aunt and the saintliness of a young priest, for whom Kimbali develops a crush. The story continues past the original event to an unexpected ending. I found that a very satisfying structure.

Despite my reticence in reading anything with such a religious theme, I found myself swept up in the Nigerian culture, and the family's tensions with itself, as well as with the system. It's a powerful novel, worthy of its prizes. Every time I put it down I looked forward to picking it up again. I might even read it a second time.

( )
  Jemima_Pett | Nov 11, 2014 |
i liked this book a lot, but found myself often wanting more from the author. i don't know if this is because i was willing the book to go in a slightly different or deeper direction than the author was taking it or if it's more that this is the author's first book and maybe she'd do it a bit differently now. but it's well written, it takes on big topics in an accessible and competent way, and it has a couple of pretty relatable characters. also, i loved that her very first words are a nod to famous fellow nigerian author chinua achebe. ("Things started to fall apart at home when...") nice touch.

but i really did want more. i wanted more from mama, i wanted more from auntie ifeoma about the abuse, i wanted more from kambili, i wanted more from father amadi. i wanted to know more about jaja. so mostly i wanted more from chimamanda ngozi adichie, because she doesn't give quite enough to these characters. but i very much like what she softly says about questioning authority (the church or the family structure or the government) and about the dichotomy between the super religious catholic, community centered philanthropist and almost-activist and his violence at home toward his family.

the only fully realized characters i thought were amaka and her brother obiora; i loved her pretension about class and her activism and finding her soft side as well as his intelligence and attempts to be the man of the house. and all of their talk about oppression, while still being kids. they were the highlight for me. my favorite part was probably amaka's refusal to take an english name for confirmation and her explanation of why.

i'm sold on this author, but wanted more from this book. i expect that in her later books she takes it all a bit further and will be reading them to find out.

i always like it when authors point out that sometimes the most religious people are acting against religion and the god they claim to hold so high: "Eugene has to stop doing God's job. God is big enough to do his own job." ( )
1 vote elisa.saphier | Jul 6, 2014 |
How does anyone ever trust the pillars of the community when it's such a cliché?

This is a powerful depiction of a girl stunted by growing up under an abusively controllling father. And of the effects on daily life and freedom of a military coup. The two plots work in parallel even as they affect each other. Kwambili's aunt isn't only talking about domestic violence when she says, "When a house is on fire, you run out before the roof collapses on your head."

There was much inevitable in the plot: not the tedious side of predictable, just that the weight of the prose and the bent of the characters carry you towards it like a riptide. Kwambili is passive because she's been trained that way, but give her a little space and encouragement....

Mama, so like Kwambili in that quietness where you can tell so much is going on in her head that she'll never speak (I suspect a whole novel could be teased out of even just why the tea but it doesn't need to be: just raising the question answers it)....

And Jaja, because I didn't expect that, I didn't have time to expect it, but if I'd had time I'd have known that of course Jaja would say that. ( )
  zeborah | Jul 4, 2014 |
I was deeply moved by this novel. It is a heartrending story of abuse by a poweful father who is controlled by his religion. It tells the story of a rich Nigerian family and their cousins. poor Nigerians and what daily life is like in a country on the borderline of a cuop. This novel is rich in sensory detail and poignant feeling of love between a brother and sister, a twisted father, and a local priest. ( )
  Smits | Mar 6, 2014 |
It is very difficult to create a character who does horrible, cruel, even monstrous things and not make him a fiend. It is the mark of a master of the craft of writing that Adichie fashions a man who does horrifying things and yet is stil often a good, kind, and sympathetic character.

This is a family in crises because the children are growing, have their own minds and are beginning to spread their wings against a father who is both a religious zealot and unwilling to embrace those spreading wings and is similarly repressing, often brutally, his wife. At the same time, Nigeria is a country in crises with growing pains and splintered/brutal leadership. Adichie carries the reader along these two parallel plot lines while increasing the reader's anxiety. Recommended. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Mar 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Strömberg, RagnarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Professor James Nwoye Adichie and Mrs. Grace Ifeoma Adichie, my parents, my heroes, ndi o ga-adili mma
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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.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0007189885, Paperback)

Purple Hibiscus, Nigerian-born writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's debut, begins like many novels set in regions considered exotic by the western reader: the politics, climate, social customs, and, above all, food of Nigeria (balls of fufu rolled between the fingers, okpa bought from roadside vendors) unfold like the purple hibiscus of the title, rare and fascinating. But within a few pages, these details, however vividly rendered, melt into the background of a larger, more compelling story of a joyless family. Fifteen-year-old Kambili is the dutiful and self-effacing daughter of a rich man, a religious fanatic and domestic tyrant whose public image is of a politically courageous newspaper publisher and philanthropist. No one in Papa's ancestral village, where he is titled "Omelora" (One Who Does For the Community), knows why Kambili¹s brother cannot move one of his fingers, nor why her mother keeps losing her pregnancies. When a widowed aunt takes an interest in Kambili, her family begins to unravel and re-form itself in unpredictable ways. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In the city of Egunu, Nigeria, fifteen year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a somewhat cloistered life. Their father is a wealthy businessman, they live in a beautiful home, and attend private school. But, through Kambili's eyes, we see that their home life is anything but harmonious. Her father, a fanatically religious man has impossible expectations of his children and his wife, and if things don't go his way he becomes physically abusive. Not until Kambili and Jaja are sent away from home for the very first time to visit their loving aunt, does Kambili's world begin to blossom. But when a military coup threatens to destroy the country, the tension in her family's home escalates, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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