Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a fictional novel and this years One Maryland One Book. One Maryland One Book was created by Maryland Humanities and the goal is to bring diverse groups together across the state of Maryland to share their experiences reading one book.
Set in Nigeria, fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja live a privileged in Enugu with their highly devout father and mother. Their family is a pillar of the community, they live in a beautiful house, are highly respected and all their needs are taken care of. But life isn’t as charming as it seems from the outside. Their father’s fanatical religious beliefs create a home that is silent, suffocating and even dangerous.
As politics begin to fracture the country from within, Kambili and Jaja escape their home for a short while when they go to visit their aunt and cousins in a small university town outside of Enugu. With their extended family Kambili and Jaja learn that life isn’t all about schedules, school, church and fear. But after a taste of another life, a life of freedom and happiness, will Kambili and Jaja be able to go back to the life they knew?
This is definitely a book that will spark conversations. Purple Hibiscus is charged with so many themes that you will have your pick to choose from. We see a country charged with violence and unrest; battling beliefs and societal pressures; abuse and family struggles; class struggles and so much more.
This narrative is told through the eyes of fifteen-year-old Kambili, who gives the story an innocent, open air. She comes of age in this novel and we see her grow from a scared naive little girl, into a woman who stands up for herself and will do what she must to keep her fractured family together.
This book was at times hard to read, dealing with sensitive themes and topics. For me the ending left something to be desired, but it was the ending the story needed and in that way it was satisfying.
This would be a good book for a book club and there are a ton of resources to help spur on the conversation at One Maryland One Book. This one gets four stars from me.
That’s all for now!