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Purple Hibiscus    by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie order for
Purple Hibiscus
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Order:  USA  Can
Anchor, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Nigerian author Adichie's story tells of a teenage girl, Kambili, who is caught between two extremely contrasting views of her father. On the one side, he is a man most generous with his resources, held up as an example to the community. On the other, he is a son who despises his father, a husband who beats his wife, and a father who so controls his children that they have a detailed daily schedule to follow, any deviation from which results in painful physical punishment.

It is only when Kambili goes with her brother to visit an aunt that she begins to see that there can be a different kind of life than the one she has lived. Her cousins, though quite poor, are free to question, to laugh, and to grow by learning. In contrast, she can barely talk, and she is afraid to feel. A young priest takes special interest in her and helps her to emerge from inside herself.

The political situation in Nigeria plays a distinct role in this story. A military coup, shut down newspapers, imprisoned editors, university faculty uprisings, power failures, gasoline shortages, soldiers demanding bribes, all these things surround this harrowing tale. The purple hibiscus of the title is rare in Nigeria, but given the right circumstances it can grow and bloom, just like Kambili. This is Adichie's first book. I'm hoping there will be more.

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