I have hated to read this book. But I couldn’t wait to turn each page, to the extent that I’ve finished reading it in two sittings.
The book is about Kambili who is raised by a father who beats them up, follows strict catholic rules to the extent of not associating with his own father who he calls an heathen. Kambili and her older brother seem depressed in my opinion. They are mechanical about life and only do what is expected of them from their father. Their mother survives the beatings and miscarriages in the same way. Aunty Ifeoma, their father’s sister is different. Her husband died and she is a lecturer. Her family consisting of Amaka, Obiora and Chima is full of laughter and sibling arguments. Its only after Kambili and Jaja her brother visit them do their lives change for the better. Kambili’s father dies though in the end.
At first I thought how different I am from Kambili. Her fifteen year old self couldn’t speak up for herself. But as she interacts with others I could identify a hundred percent with her behavior. Not participating unless you think the other party will appreciate your input. Either way thinking of it, not even her speaking up and defying her father would have helped.
Sincerely speaking, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. It feels so personal. It has opened a lot of scars. Making me wonder, do people ever fully get over their past? Father Amadi tells Kambili to not ask why some things happened to her or them, like her torturous father. I admit that at times, people with bad childhoods turn out okay by the end of it. But I can not help but think that it could have been avoided. Or rather to put it differently, I think children should not experience things like their mother beaten. I always think that for those extreme cases, the mothers should just walk away, at least for the sake of the children. Because to get those children smiling genuinely might take a miracle. And miracles aren’t like oxygen found everywhere. For kambili,it took father Amadi to get her alive. And for me I think she was lucky that her “saviour” was a father who respected his fatherhood. Otherwise whatever saves these broken souls usually causes more damage by the end of the day.
When you are in a melancholy boom and you feel like sadness, this is the book for it. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie