I'm not sure I gave this one a fair shot. Having recently finished Half of a Yellow Sun, it may have been too soon to read something else by the same author. The fact that I found it rather forgettable may be more a function of author fatigue than of its actual merit.
That said, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is extremely talented, and she knows how to tell a story. Here she explores a significant time in the life of 15-year-old Kambili, who is making the transition into adulthood in a wealthy urban Nigerian family dominated by her tyrannical, abusive father. Kambili's chance to experience a different life in the household of her Aunt Ifeoma--a household of cramped space, frugal meals, free expression and expansive ideas--shows her that there is another world and another way to live.
Of course, the love and freedom Kambili tastes in that household make it impossible for her to return to her own family. But return she does, using her newfound knowledge to cope in new ways, even when her family situation takes a startling turn.
Kambili grows up that summer, and this book portrays it beautifully. Nevertheless, I'm a bit lukewarm overall. Maybe it's author fatigue, as I said. Maybe I'm just getting old.
"Will you replace the figurines?" I asked. I could smell the chalky deodorant under her arms. Her brown face, flawless but for the recent jagged scar on her forehead, was expressionless.
"Kpa," she said. "I will not replace them."
Maybe Mama had realized that she would not need the figurines anymore; that when Papa threw the missal at [my brother] Jaja, it was not just the figurines that came tumbling down, it was everything. I was only now realizing it, only just letting myself think it.