Short review: Purple Hibiscus

Purple Hibiscus
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
ebook: c. 8 €

I thought I’d introduce a new category to my blog for books that I’ve read and wanted to mention but not necessarily review in detail. So here it is, my first short review.


Kambili is a 15-year old girl who grows up under the strict rule of her Catholic fanatic father who uses hard physical punishments to keep his family in line and ensure his public image as a democracy-loving benefactor of the local community. Only when she and her brother Jaja visit their aunt’s house that’s full of laughter they get to know a different world in which children are loved and allowed to have opinions of their own. Background of the novel are the unrest and revolution in Nigeria.


I find nothing more annoying than a first-person narrator who doesn’t have a mind of her own, doesn’t voice opinions and keeps silent in the face of oppression, especially when it’s her own. Hence I couldn’t relate to Kambili at all, or even to any of the characters in the book really. At least her brother Jaja at some point starts to realise that he needs to rebel against the father.

What I liked though was the contrast between Kambili and her fun-loving cousin Amaka. At first, Kambili is only capable of seeing Amaka through the ideologies that her father has instilled in her, but with time she learns from her cousin not only how to prepare a family meal that is shared during friendly conversation, but also how to form own thoughts and actually laugh.

I can’t really tell you guys whether or not you should read this book – I didn’t like it; I didn’t even like the character development of Kambili. I read the book because my bestie’s writing her master’s thesis about this book (among others; so you might here more about African literature in the next weeks) and I’m proof-reading for her. However, I’ll admit that Purple Hibiscus is well-written and gives an insight into the conflict between white Christian practices and African religious traditions and how people (don’t) get along with both in their lives.

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