Library Journal Review
Fifteen-year-old Kambili lives comfortably with her parents and older brother, Jaja, in Enugu, Nigeria. Respected and generous with his money, her fanatically religious father is nevertheless cruel when his wife and children do not live up to his lofty expectations. When Kambili and Jaja visit their widowed aunt Ifeoma in the impoverished countryside, they endure many privations but finally enjoy the pleasures of a warm and loving family. They are even able to spend time with their beloved grandfather, whom their father has denounced as a heathen. Having grown up in Nigeria, Adichie speaks tellingly of the country's political and military problems, which serve to exacerbate escalating tensions within Kambili's family. The stunning denouement underscores the power of family love. Written with great sensitivity, this debut shows why Adichie has already won several awards (e.g., the Caine Prize for African Writing). Recommended for all libraries.-Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
By turns luminous and horrific, this debut ensnares the reader from the first page and lingers in the memory long after its tragic end. First-person narrator Kambili Achike is a 15-year-old Nigerian girl growing up in sheltered privilege in a country ravaged by political strife and personal struggle. She and her brother, Jaja, and their quiet mother, who speaks "the way a bird eats, in small amounts," live this life of luxury because Kambili's father is a wealthy man who owns factories, publishes a politically outspoken newspaper and outwardly leads the moral, humble life of a faithful Catholic. The many grateful citizens who have received his blessings and material assistance call him omelora, "The One Who Does for the Community." Yet Kambili, Jaja and their mother see a side to their provider no one else does: he is also a religious fanatic who regularly and viciously beats his family for the mildest infractions of his interpretation of an exemplary Christian life. The children know better than to discuss their home life with anyone else; "there was so much that we never told." But when they are unexpectedly allowed to visit their liberated and loving Aunty Ifeoma, a widowed university professor raising three children, family secrets and tensions bubble dangerously to the surface, setting in motion a chain of events that allow Kambili to slowly blossom as she begins to question the authority of the precepts and adults she once held sacred. In a soft, searing voice, Adichie examines the complexities of family, faith and country through the haunted but hopeful eyes of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood. Lush, cadenced and often disconcerting, this is an accomplished first effort. Author tour. (Oct. 17) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved