Purple Hibiscus by

14 August 2008


Image of Purple HibiscusISBN: 9780007189885 ; Other Reviews

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 étagére.

Kambili, the teenage narrator of the book, is a 15 year old girl. In many ways she lives a priveliged life in Nigeria. Her father owns factories; he is a “big man” in the community. A fact that is brought home to her when she visits her less well off aunt and cousins. But wealth doesn’t equal happiness. Kamibili and her brother Jaja live under the strict rules of their father and his fiercely religious beliefs.

This is a very good book. I did have a bit of trouble at first with Kambili, especially in trying to figure out exactly what age she was supposed to be. I guess my habit of not reading blurbs didn’t pay off there. She often comes across as very young, but much of that has to do with her sheltered and regimented life style. She begins to live a little when visiting her aunt, and it is then that she begins to act more her age.

She is the one telling the story, so we only know what she knows, we only see what she sees, and as a very sheltered, in some ways, child she doesn’t always understand everything that is going on. She also has difficulties in relating to people, she is unsure of how to act, everything revolves around how her father would react. Would he approve? Would he like to hear this or that?

I thought that aspect was especially well written; Kambili’s desire for her father’s approval while fearing him at the same time.

Highly recommended.

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