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Purple Hibiscus

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  15,574 ratings  ·  1,630 reviews
A haunting tale of an Africa and an adolescence undergoing tremendous changes by a talented young Nigerian writer. Fifteen-year-old Kambili's world is circumscribed by the high walls of her family compound and the frangipani trees she can see from her bedroom window. Her wealthy Catholic father, although generous and well-respected in the community, is repressive and fanat ...more
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by New York (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Adam
I have really enjoyed reading Purple Hibiscus by Nigerian born writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. An admirer of her compatriot, the writer Chinua Achebe, who wrote, amongst other things, Things fall apart, she begins her novel with the words : “Things started to fall apart at home…” Even if the use of these words is purely coincidental, they provide a very apt summary of what is going to happen during the following 300 pages.

The story is narrated by 15 year old Kambili. She and her brother Ja Ja ar
...more
Lisa
A father/husband who is physically abusive, extremely authoritarian, rigidly Catholic, yet extremely generous toward his community drives the action of the novel. When his children, Kambili (the narrator) and Jaja, go to live with their aunt they witness and begin to experience autonomy.

Nigerian political strife is merely a backdrop in this novel. Eugene, Kambili’s father, runs a paper and finds himself having to take his printing underground to escape the authorities; Ifeoma, Kambili’s aunt/ E
...more
Jill
Mar 30, 2013 Jill rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jill by: Kinga
Shelves: kinga-forced-me

3.5 stars

Kambili is fifteen, living at home with her brother, Jaja, her mother and her father, a wealthy businessman. Their home life though affluent and seemingly stable is an unhappy one with Kambili, Jaja and their mother walking on eggshells, living with the physically and emotionally abusive father, a religious, fanatical tyrant. Nigeria, politically unstable at this time, succumbs to a military coup.

This is author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's debut. The writing is flowing, easy to follow, t
...more
Stephen
Oh, Miss Adichie...

This is the second book I've read by this brilliant woman. Yes, second, you are not mistaken. Americanah was attempted in the summer but that was not the time nor place for it. Soon, though. Soon. Anyway, onto this perfection. You would think the story of a dysfunctional, complicated family is nothing new, yes? You would be wrong. Adichie enriches this story with her visceral prose and turns the book on its head with a fascinating dynamic between these people. The characters-
...more
Tea Jovanović
Wonderful book...
Among the top 20 that I've signed as editor...
Pam
This is a fantastic debut novel by a young Nigerian-born writer. This is a YA novel, but has very heavy material. Kambili is a 15 year old Nigerian girl born into privelege in her war torn country; however, her life is not what it seems. Her father, a wealthy business man and philanthropist, is also an abusive tyrant. The juxtaposition of the wealth of the ruling class and the abject poverty of the masses is paralled by the two faces of the family. The writing is beatiful and vivid. Because it p ...more
Lola
What a compelling character Adechie has created in Kambilli, i was pulled into her reclusive world, her shyness was so well illustrated it brought me back to my own adolescence when i so desperately wanted to comment on the world around me but my voice wouldn't come. Adechie's talent for using clear cut simplistic writing to depict complex situations was brilliant. Purple Hibiscus is filled with so many themes and well thought out contrasts that i cannot imagine readers walking away from this wi ...more
Ben Vizzle
Ben
Ms. Houseman
World Literature
5/5/08
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Purple Hibiscus
New York: Anchor Books, 2003
307 pp. $15
1-4000-7694-3
Book Review

“Purple Hibiscus”, written by contemporary Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, tells the story of a lonely and reclusive 15-year-old girl, Kambili, in present-day Nigeria. The tumultuous social, political, and religious climate, typical to that time in Nigeria, permeates every aspect of Kambili’s life. But Kambili’s situation is different than that of m
...more
Thomas
A great coming-of-age story about fifteen-year-old Kambili, an obedient girl who watches as Nigeria falls under a military coup. At the same time her own family struggles to keep their personal cracks sealed. Kambili's father, a man who values religion above all else, abuses Kambili and her brother, ignores their ailing pagan grandfather, and helps hundreds of poor people all at once. When her father sends Kambili and her brother away to stay with their educated aunt and her free-spirited childr ...more
Ebony
I was biased towards Adichie as an excellent writer because that’s what people said. It wasn’t the book I originally was going to read by her but it was her first so naturally, I thought I would start at the beginning. I felt so oppressed reading the book but then I realized that was her genius. She never said the word oppression. For the first two-thirds of the book, she never described pain, but all the details made me feel like something was terribly wrong not just at home but also in the cou ...more
Book Riot Community
My official end-of-year project is reading backlist from authors I just fell in love with this year, and Adichie’s stunning debut novel got me off to a fantastic start. This is the story of 15-year-old Kambili and her brother Jaja. Their father is a Big Man in their Nigerian community. He is a devout Christian, and keeping his family on the narrow path of the faithful is his primary focus in life, no matter what it takes. He is verbally and physically abusive, and his family lives in fear of him ...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 0.125* of five

Men beat their wives and children. Politics is a dirty business. And the Catholic Church is bad. The end.

Who cares. Seen it, read it heard it, many times before.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Cheryl
Lovely and heart wrenching tale of a teenage girl who grew up in a privileged, yet religiously oppressive family led by a dominant, confused father and a docile, conforming mother.

I thought I would dislike this book because by page 16, it seemed to abruptly take me back a few years. None of that mattered by the time I was rooted in Kambili's narration, in fact, a huge chunk of the book stayed in a certain period, with smooth transitions at the end. So taken was I by Adichie's usage of dialect (I
...more
Nicola
I really, really loved this book. The very first chapter captivated me and the book held my attention right until the last page. The writing was good- using the exact amount of description needed to bring the book to life. The characters all felt very real and believable. The story was intriguing and emotional. I definitely did not predict the ending and it was very fitting. All in all, a very enjoyable read and one of my new favourites.

For more of my reviews and recommendations, visit my blog:
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Amalie
I have to say, for a "first novel", this was brilliant and I could not put this book down. Adiche have to be an admirer of Chinua Achebe, who wrote Things Fall Apart . The opening words of Purple Hibiscus are: "Things started to fall apart at home..."

Perhaps the use of these words are coincidental but they sum up what is going to happen as the story continues. The story takes place is the post-colonial Nigeria plagued with political instability and economic difficulties. The conflicts between t
...more
Cecilia
The book was fascinating because it depicted a Nigeria I’m not particularly familiar with, e.g., people who live in cities and have electricity (sort of) and running water (only a few). My relatives largely live in villages without those two conveniences of modern life and with a well and a generator, we make life in the village somewhat “normal” by Western standards.

The story itself - a sort of coming of age story of a very sheltered teenager - is interesting more because its perspective is unu
...more
Lindsay
Mar 24, 2008 Lindsay rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of African lit, abusive family issues (ok, "fan" isn't the right word)
Recommended to Lindsay by: Vanity Fair (recommended the author)
Although this book was overall pretty enjoyable and a quick read, I kept feeling like there was something missing. Some of the characters felt kind of "flat" to me--there were very few surprises in their reactions as new events arose. Also, even though Nigerian social/political issues ran throughout the book, I felt as if they could have been more pronounced. That could be just my own preference--so far, from reading a book set in another country and culture usually during tumultuous times, I ex ...more
Paola
Reading this book I could not avoid thinking of Philip Larkin's This be the verse, though here one may well add "religion"and "colonialism" to "mum and dad".

Dad here is a misguided, bigoted psychopath who is as violent with his family as he is generous with everyone who comes his way, and upright in his championing of Catholicism and political freedom. Religion comes in the shape of Father Benedict, who seems as pleased in anyone beating sin out of sinners as the worst sadist; and colonialism's
...more
Carol
Purple Hibiscus takes place in Nigeria, a country that I was unfamiliar with. The story is told through an endearing character, Kimbilli, a teenage daughter in a prosperous Nigerian household. Despite their apparent affluence, their life was anything but comfortable. The father was a cruel and narrow minded patriarch of the family. He had rejected his native religion and roots, including his own father, a traditionalist,in favor of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was portrayed as an imp ...more
Milan/zzz
One of best reads 2006
Reading this book has been actually very hard because it was just as she described my country's recent past. I was there in every single sentence when she described situation on University; government's repression; political murders; corruption on every level of society; killing free press; endless waiting in a front of embassies; disregard of international community; "For them, I'm nothing more than black gorilla who knows to read" (said University professor in the book) I
...more
Inês
Vou dar-vos um conselho: leiam este livro!
É imperativo que o façam.

Quando temos o hábito de ler, quando o fazemos há muitos anos de forma consistente, começa a tornar-se cada vez mais difícil deixarmo-nos arrebatar por um livro. Há sempre alguma coisa que parece falhar: o conteúdo, a forma, as personagens. Já lemos tantas coisas boas que a fasquia está alta e por ela já só passam os melhores dos melhores.
Chimamanda Adichie não só passou a fasquia como ainda deu um mortal encarpado no ar e aterr
...more
Margitte
This was a great book to read.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche combined Nigerian politics, religion, cuisine, traditional believes and industry in such a way that neither of the elements overshadowed the story of the fifteen-year old Kambili and her family. Although her father was religiously rigid, physically, mentally and emotionally abusive to the family, especially Kambili's mom, Adiche still showed his softer side of him caring for so many hundreds of people either openly or anonymously. Her wealth
...more
mark
I have been interested in Nigerian popular cinema (Nollywood) for some time, so when I came across this book, written by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie it immediately caught my attention. All in all it did not disappoint. There is a certain dispassionate tone about the narration, and the dialogue seems stilted at times, but this is somehow appropriate and in character in the voice of Kambili the 15 year old girl who is the main protagonist and narrator of the story. Kambili's narrative ...more
1morechapter
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has really impressed me with her writing abilities. Purple Hibiscus was Adichie’s first novel. I read her second book, Half of a Yellow Sun, last year and it was in my Top 20 for 2007. Although some have stated that Purple Hibiscus was not as good as Half of a Yellow Sun, I disagree. I think it was just as well-written, and in fact I may prefer it.

Kambili and her family are of the wealthy upper class in Nigeria. Her father owns several factories and is a major benefactor
...more
Kinga
Opressives regimes,opressive fathers and Africa - my favourite literary subjects all in one book! This had to be good.
And it was. Ms Adichie is someone I am definitely going to follow.
Even if the characters seemed a little too black or white and predictable at times it was still a strong debut especially considering how young the author was.
The style of the narrative represented very well the narrator's timid nature and I think Adichie did a really good job on that.
Neeraj Bali
The story told by a young Nigerian girl who grows up in a strictly religious household where Papa commits tortures his children in the name of love of God – and love for them. All the riches and ‘comforts’ cannot compensate for the terror in which the Kamibili and Jaja and their mother live. The contrast with the happiness that pervades the family of Papa’s sister is unmistakable to the two children. Eventually, the children rise, like a lone purple hibiscus among others of a different colour.

Th
...more
Jana
This book is one of the many reasons why is imperative to read classic and contemporary world literature, and not just bury yourself into one genre, from one country, or few countries that share the same language and similar culture and mentality. This book is a proof that no matter the hundreds of kilometres distant continent or country, people are still people and that those main geographical differences: meridians and parallels - are just that. Geographical differences, they are not obstacles ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Half of a Yellow Sun was the best book I’d read in a long time, so I was looking forward to reading the author’s other novel. Purple Hibiscus is a good book, but it’s one of those first novels that doesn’t really demonstrate the author’s true abilities.

This book is narrated by Kambili, a 15-year-old girl living in contemporary Nigeria. She comes from a wealthy family, and her father is widely admired for his support of the Catholic church and his fearless publication of a pro-democracy newspaper
...more
K
Sep 04, 2009 K rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K by: Kinga
What a refreshing change after a run of really disappointing books. “Purple Hibiscus” is an engaging novel about Kambili, a teenage girl growing up in Nigeria. Her father, a longtime convert to Christianity, is staunchly religious and a pillar of the community, pious and generous to outsiders, harsh and abusive to his wife and two children. Kambili’s father, Eugene, keeps the children on an extremely tight schedule and they live in fear of coming in second on their report cards. As such, peer so ...more
Jesse
A very moving account of what the Nigerian philosopher Moyibi Amoda calls the colonial "hierarchy of cultures", Adichie's impassioned novel should illuminate the consequences of political and economic imperialism in Africa, particularly Nigeria which has been billions of dollars in debt to the IMF for decades, to Western readers. Also, it should make Western liberals feel as good about themselves as when they listen to NPR or watch "Good Night, Good Luck" (I mean, what did Murrow do: he helped a ...more
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Reader with a Cause: First Impressions 2 15 Nov 10, 2014 05:03AM  
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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian-American author. Her best known novels are Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and Americanah (2013).

She was born in Enugu, Nigeria, the fifth of six children to Igbo parents. She studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half. At nineteen, Chimamanda left for the U.S. to study communication at Drexel Un
...more
More about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie...
Americanah Half of a Yellow Sun The Thing Around Your Neck We Should All Be Feminists Half of a Yellow Sun / Americanah / Purple Hibiscus: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Three-Book Collection

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“We did that often, asking each other questions whose answers we already knew. Perhaps it was so that we would not ask the other questions, the ones whose answers we did not want to know.” 62 likes
“There are people who think that we cannot rule ourselves because the few times we tried, we failed, as if all the others who rule themselves today got it right the first time. It is like telling a crawling baby who tries to walk, and then falls back on his buttocks, to stay there. As if the adults walking past him did not crawl, once” 41 likes
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