Welcome to day two of Reading for Change, when we enter into reading with intention so we can learn and grow and maybe, just maybe, begin to gain an understanding into the lives of people who are different from us.
Some of you have joined me in only reading books by black authors in honor of Black History Month …and the discussions are only halfway over! Join me Wednesday for an interview with and discussion on Drew Hart’s Trouble I’ve Seen, or Thursday for Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming.
So, if you joined me for reading Purple Hibiscus, jump on down to the comments’ section and engage in dialogue today! The rules are simple, meaning there aren’t really any rules: leave a comment. Tell us what you loved about the book. Dialogue with others who read (or are dying to read) the book. Include a link to your blog post, if you wrote about it elsewhere. Then, call it good to go. Also, be sure to check out Annie’s thoughts by heading over to her blog.
So, Purple Hibiscus:
This is the second book I’ve read by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose words are always an eye-opener and a breath of fresh air for me. (The first? Americanah, and you can read my thoughts here). A Nigerian native, she writes what she knows, so this story entirely takes place in Nigeria.
It’s a country I don’t know very well.
It’s a culture (in the time the story takes place) of patriarchy, civil unrest and religious fanaticism that I’m unfamiliar with in the world I live in today.
And it’s a story that’s rather hard to swallow sometimes, because who wants to read of a domineering and abusive father, and who wants to taste the racism of the times, and who wants to align extremist Christian views with a religion that seems (and really is) so far from the painted picture?
The story is narrated by Kambili, a fifteen-year-old Nigerian girl, who goes with her brother to live with their aunt when a military coup forces them to leave their family’s home. It’s not until they begin to really live in this new place that they begin to see and breathe and soak up life – life through the unique purple hibiscus plants that adorn her aunt’s property. For the first time, they experience autonomy outside the realms of their father’s rigid beliefs, schedule and ordering of their lives.
So our story, which could technically be classified as a Young Adult novel (simply because the narrator is a young adult herself – even though it feels more “adult” to me), is a coming of age novel. Kambili and her brother both begin to find out who they really are apart from their father’s rules of school, socialization and religion.
And isn’t that the journey all of us are on, at some point in our lives? We’re all coming to know ourselves, finding out who we really are under the skin and bones we wear.
While the reader learns a fair amount about Nigerian history, the heart of the novel resides in intense, broken, messy family dynamics.
Reconciliation comes, in a way, although it’s never very neat and pretty. The bow that ties the end of the story together is rather scraggly and and faded and worn, but it knits the book together nonetheless.
Even though I’m being vague, I don’t think Adichie could have picked a better ending.
So, what’d you think? How did Purple Hibiscus (or whatever fiction book by a black author you chose to read) change you? What did you appreciate, and what did you loathe?
Do enter into the conversation by leaving a comment below. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
So, Purple Hibiscus : yay, nay? Have you read any of Adichie’s books, and what do you think of the themes woven throughout her writing in general?
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