You know how sometimes you JUST finish a book and it’s so SO great and you kind of just want to tell everyone about it? Well, that’s why I’m writing my review for Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at 9:30 at night, when I have to get up at 4 and still have to do prep work for tomorrow’s dinner before I go to bed. (Well, writing this review and also looking up Adichie’s backlist and adding it all to my TBR.)
I had been idly hearing about Americanah for what seemed like a long time, but didn’t really pay much attention to it until I read the back of the cover in B&N one day, and well, here it is because I can’t sum it up any better:
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland. At once powerful and tender, Americanah is a remarkable novel of race, love, and identity by the award-winning writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
I was going to try, but that’s really a brilliant description (well done, person who did the description on the back of this book). I’m not going to go really into the story because I don’t want to be spoilery, but I’ll take about the things I enjoyed a lot.
Ifemelu is such a great character. She’s honest almost to a fault, and clear-headed and concise. The timeline moves around a bit, and you can clearly see the changes in her at these different times in her life. At first, I was thinking to myself that this was inconsistent, but the more I thought about it (and this is the kind of book that you find yourself idly thinking about whenever not reading it), I realized how perfect this actually is. I am NOTHING like the person I was a decade ago. I have slightly different mannerisms, I’m more assertive, I’m not as emotional, etc. Ifemelu’s character at different time periods clearly reflected this – how you can be the same person you were, but so remarkably different too. Obinze I liked a lot too… but the star of the book is really Ifemelu. Obinze was interesting, and I wanted so desperately for him and Ifemelu to make it.
There are also blog entries throughout the book, written by Ifemelu, that I LOVED. I highlighted a lot as I read. They’re about race, and identity, and I ended up standing in the kitchen tonight reading passages out loud to Treland and talking about them. The books I end up loving are books that do this – give me a lot of food for though and things to discuss with the people around me. It’s books like this that kind of make me wish I had a real-life book club. And you know how sometimes you sit down to start a book and before the first chapter is even over, you just know that you’re going to get along with this book? I had that with this. It’s beautiful. And on that note, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite quotes:
“She liked that he wore their relationship so boldly, like a brightly colored shirt.”
“Why must we always talk about race anyway? Can’t we just be human beings? And Professor Hunk replied – that is exactly what white privilege is, that you can say that. Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice.”
“They want Obama to win because maybe finally somebody will cast a beautiful chocolate babe in a big-budget rom-com that opens in theaters all over the country, not just three artsy theaters in New York City. You see, in American pop culture, beautiful dark women are invisible.”
“He had called her at night to say he couldn’t sleep. “This is really corny but I am so full of you, it’s like I’m breathing you, you know?” he had said, and she thought that the romance novelists were wrong and it was men, not women, who were the true romantics.”
Sarah Says: 5 stars