Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah

 

 

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

 

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12 comments

  1. This was a book I read with my real life book club and, you’re right, it was an absolutely perfect pick for the reasons you mentioned. There’s just so much to discuss and roll over that we had a hard time stopping. I absolutely adored this book, too, so I’m always glad to see someone else who loved it.

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  2. I think this woman is one of the finest writers in the English language right now. I had a visceral and negative reaction to the ending, but even taking that into consideration, it was one of the best books I read last year. I felt as if this book was informing me of the time in which we live.

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  3. Woooow. So, I’ve obviously been hearing good things about this book everywhere, but haven’t thus far felt compelled to pick up a copy. Until now… A book you can’t stop thinking about? Wonderful quotes that just beg to be shared? Blog entries? A need to share the love immediately? DING DING DING ALL THE WIN. (Great review, in other words – you persuaded me!)

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  4. Gah! You always do this to me. I have enough books and now I desperately want to read this one. I love that you read passages out loud to your man. I love doing that myself and only ever really do it when something is a little breathtaking, or hilarious, or so unequivocally true.
    Now I’m on the hunt for a copy of this. I feel like I could do an entire post on books I’ve bought because of your reviews lol.

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  5. I’ve been hearing about this one for months, but for some reason, like you, I just hadn’t felt the need to pick it up. Obviously I need to read it immediately now.

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  6. My old book club read Half of a Yellow Sun, and it was an excellent book club read. I’d have loved to read Americanah for it also — just a ton to discuss, and I think it’s a book everyone would have really liked. I need to buy myself a copy of this now that it is out in paperback!

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  7. Ooooh, I’ve had this on my kindle for a WHILE, but you’ve made me really want to read it! No particular reason I haven’t, just, you know, too many books, too little time. But YES! THIS!

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