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Purple Hibiscus (2003)

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,3171812,541 (4.01)1 / 619
Fiction. Historical Fiction. HTML:

"One of the most vital and original novelists of her generation." ‚??Larissa MacFarquhar, The New Yorker
From the bestselling author of Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They're completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home‚??a home that is silent and suffocating.
As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father's authority. Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins' laughter rings throughout the house. When they return home, tensions within the family escalate, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together.
Purple Hibiscus is an exquisite novel about the emotional turmoil of adolescence, the powerful bonds of family, and the bright promise of freedom
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» See also 619 mentions

English (162)  French (4)  Finnish (3)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (181)
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
True things about this book:

1. It is ~80% child abuse/wife beating
2. It is incredibly beautiful ( )
  blueskygreentrees | Jul 30, 2023 |
Stunning. ( )
  KristinDiBum | Jul 21, 2023 |
Book: Purple Hibiscus
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Format: Paperback


Plot:
The story is about a 15-year-old girl who lives with her brother and family. They are wealthy, and her father is a fanatically religious person. Kambili, the girl with dreams lives a life that her father dictates. Her life is regulated by schedules: prayer, sleep, study, prayer.

During the reign of the Nigerian Military's rule, Kambili's father is involved in a mysterious instance and faces a severe political crisis. He sends her to live with her aunt. In this house, noisy and full of laughter, she discovers life and love ‚Äď and a terrible, bruising secret deep within her family. Her aunt is a professor at the University. They find love, but it lacks compassion. From a very different setup of the family, Kambili and her brother Ja Ja discover new horizons of life.

Characters:
This book has some powerful characters. The central character, though the story runs in the first person and from Kambili's tone, she is not the most robust character. Her characterization is quite complicated.
She is a good kid with all the aspects and virtues to be a bright and disciplined kid. The family looks impressive but somewhere the traces of being fakeness in their personalities reflected. As the story progresses, one can identify that Kambili is not as kind or fragile as she describes herself and the situations around.

Coming to the character of her father, Eugene - a wealthy and extremely religious fanatic; often an aggressive and abusive monster. His wife and kids are the victims of his domestic violence. In the name of bringing perfection in every mundane task, he offers them a violent beating.

Another main character is her brother, Ja Ja. He is a hero for himself. His name is also likeable. Then her aunt. Ifeoma and her kids are warming and sweet.

However, Kambili, after being abused extensively, still loves her father. While this trait did not appeal to me, what I understood is that being beaten up and abused for every small thing, a person's spirit to fight or stand for herself is lost somewhere. A difference n her personality can be observed when she lives with her aunt, she becomes more open-minded, cheerful, becomes self-sufficient and enjoys ascent of freedom.


I also loved Kambili and Ja Ja's aunty and her kids. They provided an alternate world for Kambili, and she got to see how a real family is like and how life without the constant state of fear can be like.

Narration
The book is written in the first person, and Kambili narrates the readers with the story. Apart from the rantings that a 15-year-old does in the story, the author has also given her readers a chance to taste the Nigerian food, visit places and get lost in the serenity that the country provides.


My Review
With no loads of twists and turns but with the most honest and brutal way of writing, the story of this teenager gives an insight of how her father played a hero in a different manner played and how he injected the religious practices in her with fear and oppression.

The word 'Kambili' in the Telugu language means ' blanket'. I can infer this name with the character of Kamibili as a girl who is always wrapped in herself. This perception made me dig deeper into her character as I read every page.

It is understood that Kambili and her brother Ja Ja lived a restricted life charted by their papa, a strict Christian, who believes that the White Man's supremacy in the free country of Nigeria. This belief in due course of the story creates problems. He is a very rich man, which is quite strange in those days of Postcolonial country of Nigeria. He owns a newspaper company that always speaks against the government, and hence he is a revolutionary person. Contrary to his personality in the outside world, he is a man of cringed mindset with his family. This is where the writing skills of author Chimamanda unveil. The contrast in personality is very well attributed to her writing.

Talking about the book title, Purple Hibiscus is a common flower found in the sub-tropical region of the country, but the purple one is rare. Though a common flower, it is its colour that separates it from the rest. This trait is seen in Kambili's character at times.

The religious views expressed in the story gave me a mixed impression. While serving God with love and compassion is very nice, forcing the children to follow some traditions was hurtful. There, a person's individual choice and freedom were at stake. At the same time, aunt also practices Christianity, but as Jesus says, she only spreads love. I remembered my school when I was reading about an aunt and her views.


What did I like
1. The writing, I am a fan of the author's writing. She writes simply and beautifully. This was the second book of hers that I read, and I loved it.
2. How the children are abused in the name of strict life is described well. It was pathetic to read, but the truth hurts!
3. The author's introduction to Nigerian culture, food and places.
4. The difference between two families, their values and their thoughts is coherently explained.
5. One point I would love to highlight is that aunt Ifeoma, though not so rich and more children shares love, and compassion and her house are always in harmony. The happiness doesn't come with the riches is a strong point that the story conveys.
6. The descriptions and intrinsic details of houses and places are well done.


What I Dint' Like:
1. The parents or the father being that blatant and abusive.
2. The character of Kambili at times was irritating; the moments where she shrugs off her father's oppressive behaviour with her, or the moments where he curbs her liberty as an individual.

Who can read
Though a disturbing read, the readers who look for serious fiction with realism and unbiased views about regions, religions and traditions can read the book.


Rating: 3/5

( )
  BookReviewsCafe | Apr 27, 2023 |
Adichie's characters are rich and fully-drawn, relatable in their complexity. The author shares her Nigerian culture with heart and compassion. I appreciate being immersed in another culture, and finding once again how much we have in common. ( )
  elifra | Mar 31, 2023 |
Reason Read: ANC, read a book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
This is the author's first book and tells the story of post colonial Nigeria, growing up rich in Africa, Christianity vs animist, domestic violence. A coming of age story. This was not my favorite book by the author. Granted it was only her first. I also was not a fan of Americanah. Her best book being Half a Yellow Son. Perhaps this book could have used less themes and more development of one to two key areas. It is a negative representation of Catholicism. Because a person has bad behaviors; this does not represent Christianity. People are flawed not Christianity. The domestic abuse was horrid and made it a hard read. ( )
  Kristelh | Mar 13, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichieprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chiamogu, NnamdiPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Humpries, JulianCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strömberg, RagnarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werner, HoniCover artistsecondary 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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Fiction. Historical Fiction. HTML:

"One of the most vital and original novelists of her generation." ‚??Larissa MacFarquhar, The New Yorker
From the bestselling author of Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They're completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home‚??a home that is silent and suffocating.
As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father's authority. Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins' laughter rings throughout the house. When they return home, tensions within the family escalate, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together.
Purple Hibiscus is an exquisite novel about the emotional turmoil of adolescence, the powerful bonds of family, and the bright promise of freedom

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