Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the writer who gave the inspirational TED talk I posted about earlier this month. I decided I had to read her books and I started with this one. Published in 2003 this is, in my view, a story of extreme brutality but it is so delicately told by 15 year old Kambili. Kambili lives a privileged life, her father is a wealthy and highly respected businessman. She and her older brother, Jaja, have the best in terms of education and live in a beautiful home. Yet her father terrorizes his family with his fanatic religious behavior which he harshly imposes on them all. Kambili has known no other way of life until her Aunt, Ifeoma, her father's sister, insists that she and Jaja come a stay with her for a week in the summer break. Kambili and Jaja are introduced to a family without strict and unbending rules. Ifeoma and her children love each other loudly and passionately. They too have Christian beliefs even though Kambili's father call them all heathen. Jaja and Kambili's eyes are opend to an alternate world which is such an extreme contrast to their own they are not sure how to relate the two.
This is a challenging read for those of us who have not had live in fear of someone. At the same time Kimbili is a character who shares her loyalty to a father who almost kills her in his retribution for a perceived sin. Her love for her father is not hard to understand and the confusion she often feels is well portrayed. I recommend this for older teenage readers and invite them at the same time to view the TED talk about the dangers of a single story.