Review of Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Fifteen-year-old Kambili is painfully shy and incredibly sheltered by her overbearing father Eugene. Kambili and her brother Jaja go through their daily lives exactly the way their father dictates that they should – complete with written daily schedules. Behind the protective walls of Kambili’s privileged Enugu home lurks painful secrets, but Kambili and Jaja keep these things to themselves. When the siblings have an opportunity to visit their Aunty Ifeoma and her three children in less affluent Nsukka, they begin to come out of their shells, much to the dismay and anger of their father.

Adichie is a master at combining political, religious and social commentary, and peppering it with complicated, often dysfunctional family relationships. Set amid the poverty, strife and constant threat of political coups in troubled Nigeria, Adichie weaves a poignant, often heartbreaking story of what it means to truly struggle in an uncertain, often violent culture.

Purple Hibiscus moves along at a leisurely pace and, unlike several other reviewers, I didn’t find it at all “boring”. I got a sense that the author was slowing things down so that the words and circumstances had sufficient time to really sink in. The story here is so genuine and thought provoking that I couldn’t help but feel an undeniable concern for, and connection to, Kambili and several of the other characters. Even Kambili’s downtrodden mother redeems herself eventually (although I wasn’t overly impressed with how this was accomplished). There’s a painful, tragic tale woven throughout, but there is also hope, love and redemption within the pages of Purple Hibiscus.

I wish I could write a review that would truly give Purple Hibiscus the justice is deserves. All I can say is that I urge readers to give this book a chance. After reading and loving Americanah, and now Purple Hibiscus, I can honestly say that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of my absolute favorite authors.


5 of 5 Stars, Review By Susan Barton