Monday, November 10, 2008

Purple Hibiscus - Book Review

I have worked hard at completing the 888 Reading Challenge this year. I don't think I will complete it but I will be close. I chose Young Adult books as one of my categories and I have read some real treasures from that list. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is a favorite.

Last week I finished another Young Adult selection, Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi that I could not put down. It is a coming of age story set in politically restless Nigeria. The young girl, Kambili, and her brother, Jaja, live with their financially successful father, who is publicly generous, but privately tyrannical and fanatically religious . Kambili's life is rigidly controlled and largely joyless until she spends time with her impoverished aunt and cousins. There she finds laughter and love. She finds religion that can be joyous rather than restrictive and legalistic.

The exotic setting is well-drawn and dramatic. One feels the heat, sees the beauty of the purple hibiscus and smells the unfamiliar foods.

It is a gripping story and the end is hopeful as the family, now without the domineering patriarch, can see a better future. PRM

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