Purple Hibiscus is the story of a young Nigerian girl, fifteen year old Kambili. The daughter of a very wealthy man, she lives a life of privilege with her parents and her brother Jaja. Things are not always what they seem and behind the closed doors of their home, Kambili lives a life of fear with her abusive fanatical father. He is a “super” Catholic, but has interpreted the tenants of his faith wrong and feels the need to punish his wife and children to keep them on the right path.
Kambili and Jaja go to visit their Aunt Ifeoma and her children for the first time and discover a very different world where you have to worry about getting enough food to eat, gas for your vehicle, electricity, and water. Aunt Ifeoma is a University Professor, but the growing unrest in the country and at her University have made times hard. As the country falls apart, so does Kambili’s world. Will she be able to find happiness?
Purple Hibiscus is the December pick for the FLICKS Book and Movie club. Sadly my vehicle died the night of book club and I was not able to make it. I would have liked to go and discuss this book. I thought it was very interesting and gave me hints of one of my favorite books, The Poisonwood Bible. I really liked that Kambili’s father was a complex character. He wasn’t just an abuser, he was a man trying to do the right thing on the national stage and work against the dictator, but that was causing harm to his workers and himself. He helped out a lot of people, but not his own family. I also like the glimpse into Aunt Ifeoma’s life as a university professor and also the dialogue about Catholicism in the country versus those that follow the old religion. There was so much to discuss!
Overall, Purple Hibiscus was a fascinating look into politics and religion in Nigeria and how it affected one girl’s life.
Book Source: The Kewaunee Public Library