by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Read: March 29 – April 3, 2019
Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound – and by her wealthy Catholic father who, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.
When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a university professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority. The visit will, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways. This is a book about the promise of freedom, about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood, between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new.
Review: This is the April selection in the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. I picked this one up quite hesitatingly. First, it’s billed as young adult, which is not my normal reading. But add on top of that the setting of Nigeria and then religious aspect and it’s really outside of my comfort zone. Let’s just put it this way – I would have never picked up this book on my own. But I wanted to at least give it a shot.
Long story short … it was good, but difficult reading. I struggled with the abuse described. I couldn’t believe the kind of household Kambili and Jaja were living in – they never even smiled/laughed, that just flabbergasted me. And I really struggled with the religion angle to the story. I’m not much on organized religion to begin with, but I just cannot accept a man who treated his family that way hiding under the guise of religion. Just. No. I also have trouble classifying this is young adult literature. To me it’s an adult book with teenage characters.
I thoroughly enjoyed the middle section of this book, it was definitely the strongest point. The beginning was slightly slow and the ending felt rushed. I would have liked to have seen the ending be fleshed out just a little bit more, but at the same time I can appreciate the fact that the book didn’t have unnecessary padding. I struggled with some of the Nigerian words scattered within this book. In some spots I couldn’t even decipher what the word even was. I understand why they were included in the text, but I didn’t feel like they helped me as a reader at all. I also had an issue with the relationship between the priest and Kambili. She was a fifteen-year-old girl, he was a grown man (and a priest!) … I can understand her “crush” on him, but I didn’t like how it was quite obviously reciprocated by him.
I’m not sure what else to really say about this one. I can definitely see where it makes a great book club selection – I am definitely looking forward to the forum discussions. I can’t say that I loved it, but I can really appreciate the story for what it was. I’m glad I read it, it got me out of my comfort zone and I’m learning that my reading interests go a lot farther than I had would have ever expected.