Book Review: Americanah

Book Review: AmericanahAmericanah
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
on March 4, 2014
Pages: 589
Published by Anchor
Genres: Literary Fiction, Multicultural

As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?

Fearless, gripping, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story of love and expectation set in today’s globalized world.

My Takeaway

“I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

First, it took me a little over a month to finish this book. Ridiculous — I know!! A myriad of readers have praised and raved about Americanah and I cannot deny the descriptions and writing is exceptional, and quite honestly phenomenal. . . I just did not enjoy and love it as I imagined I would (broke my heart a little). I felt the novel was too long and the pace too slow. I also had a hard time keeping track of the many characters in the book. Yet, there were things I absolutely liked about the novel. In particular, there was one tiny passage that immediately reminded me of my grandmother and childhood. “Back home (Ifemelu) would wash her underwear every night and hang it in a discreet corner of the bathroom.” Incredibly, as a little girl my grandmother taught me to wash my underwear by hand and hang it up on the rack inside the bathtub (she also did it, as well as my mom and aunt). Believe it or not, I still do this every single day! I have never heard of anyone else doing this and so the passage tickled my soul. Also, my husband has always thought it is the weirdest thing and so of course I showed him the passage. In the end, although Americanah was not an ideal pick for me, I appreciated Adichie’s unique perspectives, fantastic descriptions, and immaculate writing. I read and loved We Should All Be Feminists, and plan on reading her earlier novels, Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun.

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