What a book, what a writer. Easily into my top 10 favourite books. Extremism of any form is bad, the book successful brings this across.
Besides drawing a lot of parallels with Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, some of the characters take the same form as those in Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga. Eugene reminded me of Babamukuru, Kambili – Tambu.
Something I asked myself when Beatrice, mother to Jaja and Kambili, poisoned Eugene, their father, is that when is bad ever excused as good and does an intention of a deed precede the action of that deed as a warrant of moral standing? Also had to wrestle with those questions to understand Jaja’s defiance. Same thing with judging Eugene’s character, which Adichie did a great job by contrasting.
I found it interesting how Adichie used silence as a point from which everything thrive for the eventual ‘burst of change’. Life at the Achike household is led through silence, even the way the siblings communicate through their eyes; the domestic violence happens behind closed doors away from the public eye, also the writer does not fully detail the violence just a hint to it; Kambili watches others to get self confidence in her smile, voice and laughter; Beatrice never tell or show anyone when she poisons her husband until he is dead. As a reader I get to understand how validation and self worth works through the agency of silence.
Another thing to take away from the book is that the power of an abuser over their victim/s lay in taking control of their thoughts, feelings and dreams. One should never allow anyone to take hold of any of those three things. My only complaint is that Adichie came short with how she developed Jaja’s character, his gradual change needed more depth.