Purple Hibiscus is a coming-of-age story set against a backdrop of corruption and unrest in Nigeria, but it is also as harrowing story of domestic violence. Kambili lives a life of priviledge with her family, in a large house dominated by her pious Catholic father. When Kambili and her brother JaJa visit the poorer, but freer, happier home of their aunt, it leds to the ultimate disintegration of their family.
From this book I learnt about the conflict between Catholicism and the old religions in Nigeria, and the use of English as opposed to native languages, which was fascinating. There is a lot of "local colour" in Purple Hibiscus, but this is overshadowed by the constant threat of violence. The character of the father is a hypocritical bully, outwardly religious and generous to the community, but instilling fear in his family. Sadly this type of abusive personality is universal.
Purple Hibiscus was an impressive debut, but an uncomfortable read.