All consuming, and deeply unsettling, this horrific matter-of-factly told story is the silent scream of a stuttering adolescent. The narrator, 15 year old Kambili writes this in bewilderment of her cousin's free flowing tears: "She had not learned the art of silent crying; she had not needed to."
People tend to compartmentalize wife-beaters as incapable of love, or respect, or even humanity. Ms Adichie, in the rare Purple Hibiscus, takes the time to describe the narrator's abusive father, Eugene, to present a more nuanced and honest character, and to explain why the Electra complexed Kambili keeps pining and dreaming for her father's approval.
This coming of age story of a rich girl in a poor country is everything teenage symbolizes- sexual awakening, the realisation that you don't need permission to love, freedom from a tyrant father Kambili will always be tied to.
Let Ms Adichie take you to the Enugu and the Nsukka of her childhood, the sleepy towns where unrest thrives and walk with her as she paints the infinite colours that you will only find in the land of man.
Of Africa's, and more explicitly Nigeria's political struggles, Ms Adichie writes "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 all crawl, once. " Every citizen, of every commonwealth nation, and every person who has faced racism, knows this searing truth to his bones.
This book was not an easy read. Which is precisely why I recommend it.