Fifteen-year-old Kambili is the dutiful and self-effacing daughter of a rich man, a religious fanatic and domestic tyrant whose public image is of a politically courageous newspaper publisher and philanthropist. No one in Papa's ancestral village, where he is titled "Omelora" (One Who Does For the Community), knows why Kambili's brother cannot move one of his fingers, nor why her mother keeps losing her pregnancies. When a widowed aunt takes an interest in Kambili, her family begins to unravel and re-form itself in unpredictable ways.
Amazing book. Really, this is a must read for everyone.
To read a story like this, told from the POV of an innocent 15-year-old Nigerian girl, is a strong and powerful experience.
I feel like I'm not doing this book justice with this review, but I'll try.
Imagine if your world consisted of doing what your told, no matter how dumb, and thinking it's the right thing to do. And it's right because He says so. Imagine having to live by a schedule on a daily basis, with hours for study, and family hours. Everything organised, right? But what about your freedom? Freedom of speech, of action.
This is the life of 15-year-old Kambili (Káhm-bili not Kahmbí-li). She thinks she's doing what God has planned for her, and what will make her Father proud. Never taking herself into consideration, but it's not like we can blame her. She knows no other way of living. That is until she goes to Nsukka to spend a few days with her Aunt Ifeoma.
Spending five days away from home can make all the difference in the world. Now Kambili is learning that there's more to life than picking out an English name for your Confirmation. Knows that there are things her Father is the only one to blame. And not even his acts of charity can make up for what he's done. Because what father punches her child to the verge of leaving her half-dead?
With the help and guidance of her Aunt Ifeoma, Kambili and her brother Jaja begin to accept that it's time to make a better life for themselves and their mother.