Friday, August 08, 2008


Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 307
Reason for Reading : Library Book Discussion Group

Purple Hibiscus (by the author of Half a Yellow Sun) was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and won the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Kambili is 15 and lives in Nigeria with her older brother Jaja, mother and father. Her father is one of the Big Men who owns a series of factories, has a lot of money and is very generous with his wealth and power making him very well respected within the community. He is a strong follow of christianity and leads many in prayer and correct living.

At home things are not quite as they seem. He is fanatical in his belief and expects perfection from his family. If they fail to live up to his unrealistic expectations, he turns to violence "for their own good". This includes his wife who whilst pregnant wishes to stay in the car and not visitn an important man as she is feeling nauseous. Sadly she looses her baby and ever sadder this does not stop the beatings in the future for her or her children.

All of the lives change when Kimbili and Jaja spend time with their free thinking Aunt Ifeoma and their cousins. There they are encouraged to think for themselves rather than spend their lives mindlessly following schedules and srtiving to always be top of their classes, they learn respect and how to lead a family as well as discover friendship and love. Kimbili is a shy teenager who stutters and only says what she believes will make her father hapy. Over time she emerges from her protective shell and develops a personality, questioning once accepted ways of thought and deed.

It took a little to get into this novel, but I really enjoyed it once I did. Their father makes an interesting character. On one hand he is a hero to his viliage supporting many charaties and peoples school fees, but on the other hand turning into a monster when his family fail to live up to his high standards. The story telling is very evocotive and really puts you inside living in Nigeria. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters, especially her grandfather and aunt.

9 comments:

Nymeth said...

I've heard some good things about this one before. It sounds different from the books I usually read, but still like something I'd enjoy. Plus it'd be a way to learn a little about Nigeria.

Trish said...

Like Nymeth I'd really like to read this book and at the same time learn more about Nigeria. I've heard great things about this book and her second one (which I'll be reading soon). Interesting how a man can be a hero to so many and a monster to others. Thanks for the great review!

Marg said...

I have this out from the library at the moment. I loved Half of a Yellow sun so I have high hopes for this one.

Bobbi said...

I've never heard of this one, but it sounds interesting. Nice review!

samantha.1020 said...

Your review made me want to get to this author sooner rather than later. I've been meaning to read Half A Yellow Sun for awhile now.

Joy said...

Hi Rhinoa! First I'm really glad you enjoyed the book. Second, I think this author would be considered an "A" Author for the challenge. It's my understanding that if a name is hyphenated, then you use the middle name, otherwise, it's just the last name. However, it's not a big deal to me, you can place it wherever you want. :) I just wanted to inform you. (and I could be wrong)

katrina said...

I read this when I came out, and enjoyed it at the time. I still have vivid images in my mind of some of the things the father did to the children.
I love the cover of this edition, its gorgeous.

Stephanie said...

I have this one on my list of books to read for the What's in a Name Challenge. I'm hoping to get to it soon!! I love the cover you have of it. Much nicer than the one I've seen here in the US!

Melody said...

I still haven't read this book yet!!! I've to add it to my wishlist. I love this cover amongst the rest though. :)