I read Adichie for the first time for a school assignment during the fall semester. I read her novel “Half of a Yellow Sun” which followed the lives of several Nigerians during the Nigerian civil war. I really enjoyed her writing and critical perspective towards politics, academics, humanitarians, and the press. For me, the book encouraged me to research more into Nigerian history as well as the present-day importance of Nigeria in Africa. While doing research for the book review paper, I realized that Adichie had a few other books that I was also interested. Purple Hibiscus was her debut novel from 2003 and is set in an unspecified year in postcolonial Nigeria after the civil war.
The book’s narrator is Kambili Achike, a young Nigerian woman who has been oppressed by her religious upbringing and abusive father. The book explores her coming of age in a state and family which is not friendly to the expression of the individual. The book was hard for me to read because of the extensive description of child and spousal abuse. It’s a hard book to read that reflects the hard realities of many children and spouses around the world. I appreciated the way that Adichie was able to capture both sides of the coin, the situation where the abuser is revered by the outside world but still capable of enormous cruelty to those they purport to love the most. While it was a hard book to read, I felt that it was worth every minute. I was enthralled by the storytelling of Kambili and her unique perspective on life and its happenings. I read the book in a span of my recent trip to Lyon, an occurrence that is rare during the school year. I would really recommend this book to young adults (maybe 13+) and adults. I would say that the descriptions of abuse suffered by Kambili could be too much for a younger audience, but I also believe that young people should read whatever the heck they pull off the library shelf, something I can speak to from experience.