Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This was a gift from Bindu, and one that I have to say, I absolutely LOVED.

Edited to add the cover image

Set in Nigeria, fifteen year old Kambili lives in fear of her dad. Her father is a pillar of the society, a generous, much respected and revered Catholic patriarch. While the community looks up to him, his family is petrified of him. His fanatically religious mindset ensures that his son daughter and wife have no real freedom. Their lives are bound by the schedules he draws up for them. Failure to follow rules come with a heavy price as Jaja, Kambili’s brother has learnt.

Kambili’s father, being so close minded about religion, has also disowned his own father for still being a ‘pagan’ and refusing to accept Christianity. The children are allowed to visit their grandfather but have strict rules on what they are allowed to do there, and the amount of time they are allowed to spend there.

Having lived such a life, they are suddenly taken by surprise when they go to their aunt’s house.
Their aunty, Ifeoma, is as different as possible from her fanatic brother. She somehow managed to convince her brother to let the children come with her for a few days. Her house was full of laughter and happiness. They did not have too much money but they made up for it in spirit. She is Christian as well, but not in the fanatical way her brother is. She accepts her father’s right to believe in what makes sense to him, and as a daughter does what she can for him, despite her own cash-strapped life. Her three children are happy, content and forever questioning their mother, while contributing to their household in whatever way they could. Jaja, fit into the household beautifully, enjoying his time there, soaking in the atmosphere. Kambili, on the other hand, is terrified that her father’s rules are being flouted. She lives in fear that they would have to pay for not obeying their father.

When they return back to their home, Kambili misses the simple easy life there, despite all the material comforts her parents’ house had. Jaja shows a few signs of rebellion that irks his father.
Some sudden changes and incidents ensure that the children end up in Aunty Ifeoma’s home again.

Nigeria, is in the middle of political unrest and their father is affected by it, because he was such an important figure of the community.

As Nigeria goes through the upheaval, Kambili and Jaja’s life changes drastically.

A poignant, and hopeful story that keeps you rivetted. A story of childhoods coming to an end, of control, of religious fanaticism that we see so much around us, emotions, and primarily, hope. Of better things to come.

Some books transport you to another world. You are right there, with the protagonists, feeling their fears, worries and joys, this is one of those books. The characters come alive, you feel Kambili’s fear, confusion, Jaja’s need to rebel, her aunt’s struggles, her mother’s pain… A beautiful book. It also makes me want to look up about Nigeria, a country, I realize,I know very little about. An absolutely recommended read.

A Maverick Heart: Between love and life by Ravindra Shukla

A long due review. Loads of reasons why I haven’t been able to post. More on that coming in another post.

This is an author requested review.


Richita, Rahul and Neerav meet while doing their graduation at IIT Bombay. Rahul and Neerav were already friends, while a close frinedship springs up between Rahul and Richita. Both of them had similar ideas, and similar objectives in life. Towards the end of their days at IIT, Rahul and Richita had been clear that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.

But fate had other plans. Things changed, circumstances changed. They realise that life has a way of changing everything in seconds. Everything Rahul and Richita had planned for meticulously meant nothing anymore. Mainly because society had a different standard of measuring things. Especially the standards of success. Soon the three friends go their separate ways. Each to try and make a life of their own, making the most of their circumstances.

As they enter the ‘real world’ both Richita and Rahul learn to live their lives, and Neerav pursues his dreams in America. So do the friends meet again? Does life give them another chance at happiness? Well, you will have to read the book to find out.

The story is interesting, not the regular run-of-the-mill sorts, but has a direction and it makes you want to know how it all ends. The characters are well defined. Richita’s compulsions, Rahul’s motivation, and the way each character responds to the challenges life throws them, is well-thought out. There are a few stereotypes, but not so much that it puts one off.

All in all, an interesting read. And I think a book in which the author has touched on issues that matter to him as well.

Arranged Love by Parul A. Mittal

Arraned love

Suhaani is enjoying her independent status in the US and her sexy Indian American boyfriend, when suddenly she loses her job to recession. And she¹s forced to move back to India where her father has selected a boy for her from his guitar class.
Suhaani doesn¹t know how to tell her Internet-savvy dad and Farmville-addict mother that she¹s not interested in an arranged match, especially to an IITian. She decides to dislike the guy.
Except that he’s not too thrilled about her either.
Even when they end up working together,
Suhaani decides she will not fall for this guy.
But before she can turn him down, he rejects her!

It would have made for an interesting story had it been better treated. In this case, the story gets predictable, and the main characters are so inane. Suhaani comes across as someone obsessed with the idea of a ‘love marriage’ and Facebook. Nothing else seems to matter. The whole manner in which she deals with her boyfriend, is just unbelievable. And every character, absolutely every character puns, plays with words, which would have been fun, had it just been one of them, but when every single character does it, it gets a bit much and way too predictable. For a book that was supposed to be romantic fiction, the romance, well, to put it lightly, did not come across as very romantic. It might just be me, though, with a very different idea of romance.

None of the characters seemed well developed, and most if them came across as either silly or shallow.

In my opinion, this would be a book, I would happily give a miss. From the constant Facebook presence, it might have been targetted to appeal to a younger audience, but if you ask me, I am not sure that even a generation that lives their lives on Facebook, might find it all that very appealing.

This is a author requested review.

May You be the Mother of a Hundred Sons by Elizabeth Bumiller

Another Goodreads recommendation, one that both husband and I loved.


‘In a chronicle rich in diversity, detail, and empathy, Elisabeth Bumiller illuminates the many women’s lives she shared–from wealthy sophisticates in New Delhi, to villagers in the dusty northern plains, to movie stars in Bombay, intellectuals in Calcutta, and health workers in the south–and the contradictions she encountered, during her three and a half years in India as a reporter for THE WASHINGTON POST. In their fascinating, and often tragic stories, Bumiller found a strength even in powerlessness, and a universality that raises questions for women around the world.’, says the blurb, and it had me hooked from the first page.

Elizabeth Bumillier’s husband’s foreign assignment in India, brought her to New Delhi in 1985. She writes about how she came to write this book, going from a person who knew little about India, to someone who travelled through India, lived in villages and came to understand the lives of women across India. Absorbing it all in, and writing about it in the most non-judgemental manner possible. She writes about the dowry burnings, female feticide, the complex hierarchy that exists, the condition of women in both rural and urban areas. The ironies that is India. Despite the powerful women in the political arena, women, are still facing issues with the most basic of things, health care,safety, basic equality and social freedom. The traditions that bind even the richest families in India to patriarchal norms that have resulted in the deep-seated lack of gender equality in India. Women who make the most of their lives despite all the challenges that they might face, women who adjust, accept their fate, and some who succumb to the challenges they face.

Although it was written over two decades ago, the book is still relevant in so many ways. The way in which women’s lives have not changed at the rate at which one would have expected it to change is evident when we read the book. She explores the lives of successful, independent women in India, socialites, feminists as well as women bound by traditions, and rules, for whom life hasn’t changed much from the time of their grandmothers’. The manner in which she writes, the way she sees it, without being judgemental, or stereotypical makes it a great read. Her observations of life as it is in India for women, across all strata of society, the difference in lifestyles and expectations that could vary so much and at the same time be so similar for women across India. My husband read it. He rarely reads a book these days – he finds reading on the Kindle much more easier,he just couldn’t put it down.

For a book, on a subject that can be sad, and heavy, it was a surprisingly quick and interesting read. A book I would definitely recommend.