Purple Hibiscus: A Coming of Age Story

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By Torshawna Griffin

On March 11, 2015, Women’s Center, the UMKC Library, Multicultural Student Affairs, and the Black Studies Program teamed up to give a wonderful book discussion called “Flowers and Girls that Bloom: A Feminist Coming of Age Story in Nigeria”. The discussion was based on Chimanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, the first book that she published.

The story is narrated in third person, and tells the life of Kambili and her younger brother Jaja. It discusses the battles that they face with domestic violence being ever present in their home. They have an extremely religious father that uses bible verse and catholic teachings to justify the pain and torment that they endure while living up under his roof. The violence doesn’t just stop there either, Kambilia and Jaja’s mother is also abused by her husband. His violence causes her to have two miscarriages.

The only taste of being normal and happiness that Kambili and Jaja receive us when they visit their Aunty Ifeoma. They begin to see a different family dynamic that they have never experienced before. And it makes them question the “love” that they receive from their father. I think this book is a wonderful coming of age story.

The book discussion was a well-attended event where students and staff were represented diversely. Everyone was able to take part in an open discussion about the high and lows about the story and how they felt after reading it. It made for a wonderful afternoon. I recommend reading this book and the others that Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche has published.