I’ve read Adichie before, but I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I’ve had this on my shelf for years, but picked it up on a whim finally. So glad I did. Kambili is such a shy butterfly, curled up tight inside herself with years of trauma. Her unfurling is so slow, but her feelings so vividly described, it’s like she’s living with her history on her sleeve despite being so bottled up. Her brother, Jaja, is a little more bold, but still trying his best to keep the peace in the family. Their father is the loud one, the abusive one, the one that Kambili wants to please most, and is simultaneously afraid of displeasing most.
I was shocked by how captivated I was by this quiet novel. This is about domestic violence that hides under the curtains, creeping out when you’re not expecting it. It’s about the trip that springs a coming of age in these two young people, and eventually breaks the family down. This breaking down is inevitable over the course of the story, and only serves to build up this quiet tension that bubbles over out of Kambili and Jaja and Mama.
Really truly, though, I did not see the ending coming. That took me by surprise, but also fulfilled that deep dark need for something bad to happen to people who don’t treat others with respect. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride Adichie took me on with this novel.