The Evening Standard described this book as "the complex and compelling account of a 15 year old girl's sexual awakening and religious oppression". Complex and compelling it is, but the rest of the comment is somewhat reductive to say the least. Fifteen year old Kambili's awakening is so much more than sexual, and in fact her burgeoning sense of sexuality is only ever really fleetingly touched upon. What is really compelling about this female Nigerian coming-of-age story is the way in which she finally begins to find her own voice and identity amidst confusing and powerful political, religious and social influences.
The characters in this book are so rich, particularly the opinionated and sassy cousin Amaka, whom I fell a little bit in love with (as did Kambili to some extent in my opinion).
I was lucky enough, during my reading of "Purple Hibiscus", to see Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche in person delivering her fabulous Commonwealth Lecture "To Instruct and Delight: a Case for Realist Literature"
I wouldn't say this lightly, but this book is up there with Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" for me now as an all time favourite female coming-of-age/overcoming oppression novel.