Inside the big house, Kambili confronts two versions of her father. There is the champion of human rights who publishes a newspaper that defies the military junta, and there is the sadist who beats his wife senseless, the Catholic bigot who does not hesitate to sacrifice his children to his religious obsession. The ways of God and the ways of government (a conflation frequently made in Africa) are increasingly hard to tell apart. Kambili finds out, almost too late, that the divine justice her father invokes and those that murder to preserve their political fortunes are closely linked.
When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority. The visit will lift the silence from their world and, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways. This is a book about the promise of freedom; about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood; between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new.