Purple HibiscusPurple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“It was during family time the next day, a Saturday, that the coup happened.  Papa had just checkmated Jaja when we heard the martial music on the radio, the solemn strains making us stop to listen.  A general with a strong Hausa accent came on and announced that there had been a coup and that we had a new government.  We would be told shortly who our new head of state was.use the phone in his study. 

Papa pushed the chessboard aside and excused himself to use the phone in his study.  Jaja and Mama and I waited for him, silently.  I knew he was calling his editor, Ade Coker, perhaps to tell him something about covering the coup.  When he came back, we drank the mango juice, which Sisi served in tall glasses, while he talked about the coup.  He looked sad; his rectangular lips seemed to sag.  Coups begat coups, he said . . . “

This is a coming of age story that takes place in Nigeria. It calls into question the definition of being a good person, as well as the role of religion in daily life. It is a fantastic start for the author, and I cannot wait to read more from her.

The main person who bring conflict to the storyteller is Papa. Papa is a successful and generous man. His business ventures provide for his family, and the families surrounding his quite nicely. He is a prominent member of society donating his money to churches and the less privileged. However at home while he provides a luxurious lifestyle he restricts his family from the enjoyment of it. The hours of the day are strictly scheduled and the expectations to excel are high. When his expectations are not fulfilled punishment can be expected. The author shows how this contradiction of views affects the main character Kambili. (Emphasis on the first syllable.) Kambili loves her father, and feels pride for his actions but at the same time has a debilitating fear of how he will react to her actions.

The character development of the family characters amid this stresser are very well written. They are true to life, and heartbreaking in their accuracy.  They show that while people all over the world are different, some things are always the same.  Family dynamics, and the actions that love lead family members to take are not limited to any one group.

Another theme that the book hold is religion and it’s role in influencing peoples actions.  The father is a strict Catholic who appreciates the regiment of the ceremonies.  He is generous to the church, but also uses the church to further his own agenda.  Kambili however meets a man of God who is not at all like her father.  He instead lives his religion through loving and believing in his parishioners.  Of course his way is frowned on by her father.

I’m not sure how much more I can discuss of this book without having spoilers added, just be assured that it is a book that I think everyone could benefit from reading.