Sunday, January 17, 2010

BOOK: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 307 pages

Orange January (shortlist 2004); 20-10 challenge (set in Africa); Colourful Challenge

Adichie is a Nigerian writer, and is often compared to the famous Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe, as a voice of modern Africa. And perhaps, in her first novel, she is paying homage to Achebe's famous novel, Things Fall Apart, with the opening line -

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.

Other similarities are the theme of Christian missionaries and the conflict between new beliefs and old. Purple Hibiscus examines the relationships within one family, led by an extremely devout, well-off man, a leader of the community. However, his family life is not nice, and his controlling, violent ways cause repercussions. The family dynamics is set against a coup in Nigeria, and the rebellion against the totalitarian rule. Once his two teenagers spend some time in the city with his sister, they are exposed to a freedom that will change everything.

I knew very little about this book, other than I had enjoyed Adichie's other book, Half of a Yellow Sun. The beginning was a little slow, and I wasn't liking the characters. However, once I read the back cover and realized where the book was headed, I kept reading and then enjoyed the story. The aunt, Ifeoma, was a great character, a strong woman with strong convictions to do the right thing. This book wasn't as strong as Half a Yellow Sun, but it certainly shows Adichie's promise. For readers interested in African life, and for a book with many layers and messages - about government, church, traditions, and love, this is a worthwhile read.

Third book read! More details here, but if you read a novel or more, you too can post this snazzy badge on your blog. Next up, Winner 5X. I would so love to get the gold 10X badge, but I fear that final exams in January, and sports tournaments every weekend will conspire against me. My job that pays the bills and my talented sports-minded children interfere with my reading plans!


  1. I read and liked this a few years ago, but never felt the need to pick up Half of a Yellow Sun. I do want to read more books by African authors this year, though, and if Yellow Sun is better than this one, it'll be well worth it!

  2. Thank you for your great review. I've been wanting to read this one ever since reading Half a Yellow Sun. One of these days . . .

  3. I have both books by this author on my TBR list but have yet to pick them up. They both sound really good though so I'm glad to hear your thoughts on them.

  4. jenny - Yellow Sun had a lot more plot to it,and more characters, and takes place during the Biafra war. It was more epic in scope.

    wendy - I felt the same way, and eventually got around to it. I was able to read through it fairly quickly.

    sam - enjoy both books! She is a great author.

  5. I really need to read something by her!

  6. I agree that Half of a Yellow Sun is the stronger novel by Adiche...although I appreciated this one, it didn't have the same power for me.

    Great review!


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