It’s no secret that I’m a huge Adichie fan and I was very pleased when Benn took my hints and bought this for me for my birthday. It’s a slim book, but it offers many things.
Asked by a friend for advice about how to raise her newborn daughter as a feminist, Adichie wrote her a long, detailed letter that became this book. It’s a funny, honest little book which shines with a love for girls and women and the desire that they soar in a world that can seem harsh and dangerous. I found myself nodding along as I devoured the whole thing in an afternoon- there is so much good sense in it.
Although there’s humour and grace, it contains some deep messages. Some we’ll be familiar with- let girls choose what they like at the toy shop, regardless of whether it’s marketed at boys or girls; teach them to value themselves and be careful of the language we use when talking about genders. Adichie also touches on race and what it is to be a Nigerian woman in the modern world.
This is a book that has good advice for all of us, not just mothers (and not just mothers of girls.) We could start changing the world by reading more books like this.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a writer I’ve wanted to read for a while; I have seen her give really powerful interviews and I recently read her brilliant short story The Arrangements, in which she sees the world of Donald Trump through the eyes of his wife, Melania (it is worth making the time to read it if you haven’t). On a more shallow level, I’ve been coveting the reissues of her novels in beautiful covers. However, I recently saw an offer where I could buy Purple Hibiscus, Half a Yellow Sun and Americanah for £8- I would have been daft to not take up the offer.
Purple Hibiscus tells the story of Kambili, a fifteen year old girl living in a household dominated by a violent and devout, yet charismatic, father. In a time of political unrest, Kambili and her brother Jaja are sent to live with their aunt, whose way of life is freer and less structured than the regime set for them in their own home. Kambili discovers friendship- and her own sexuality- as her life begins to change irreversibly around her, the guilt of betraying a parent always in the back of her mind.
I absolutely adored this novel, even though the subject matter was incredibly hard at times; to me, this read like a masterclass of how to structure a narrative. I’m very much looking forward to reading the other novels.