I loved this book. It is descriptive and makes you feel like you are there, but there are no superfluous words or scenes. As a debut novel, it's quite humbling to read for anybody like me who enjoys writing.
It’s a moody, atmospheric book set in Nigeria about a girl called Kambili, coming of age. The story also puts under the microscope the family’s brand of austere Catholicism and the difference between the philanthropic, God fearing public image of her father as compared to the terrifyingly misguided personal side. Though wealthy, Kambili lives in terror at home, trying to attain top marks at school to appease her anger driven father. She has a brother who is her only source of comfort. She finds it impossible to describe her home life to outsiders, connect with school peers or even her mother.
The catalyst for the story comes in the form of the colourful Aunty Ifeoma, who arrives then gives the fourteen year old Kambili a first opportunity to branch away from her oppressive home. Kambili goes to stay with her aunt and becomes part of a new family with all its ups and downs and struggles to make ends meet. In addition, this visit finally gives Kambili the chance to get to know her grandfather who represents the traditional Nigerian belief system and for this reason is abhorred by his own son.
As time passes, Kambili begins to come out of herself with the help of the strong minded widow aunt who is a university lecturer, boisterous cousins and the very special Father Amadi. I’m now looking forward to reading Half a Yellow Sun.