So, the book I read this time around was Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I read this for the “Read A Book By An Author From Africa” portion of my Book Riot #ReadHarderChallenge, and I, as you can tell from the title, have mixed feelings.
First, a little about Miss Adichie. So, Chimamanda was born in Nigeria, hence “author from Africa” and the setting of this novel. You may know her from her TedTalk about feminism or from her speech given in the Beyonce’ song “Flawless” which was taken from the aforementioned TedTalk. The TedTalk is titled “We Should All Be Feminists” and that is also the name of one of her other books, which I would like to read. There isn’t much on her website, so I am going to assume she is traveling, enlightening the world on feminism and possibly writing a new book?
So, now to the book. Americanah follows Ifemelu as prepares to move back to Nigeria from the east coast and her adventures there and abroad. The story starts in the present of her preparing for the rip, getting her hair done, and then flashes backwards to her childhood in Nigeria, and then ends with her in back in the present, this time with her in Nigeria. This description does not do it justice, but just so you get the gist of it all. Item, which is her nickname, reflects on her loves and loses throughout the story and has a blog that she titled ” Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known As Negroes) by a Non- American Black” The title is long, but the blog entries, I thought were extremely thought provoking. I have read some reviews that people hated it, but the blog posts were probably my favorite part. I am an American Black, as her blog puts it, and I found it interesting to read the differences between being African American versus being and African in America.In the midst of her becoming “Americanah”, which is what Nigerian children would call other Nigerians that were assimilated to American culture after visiting and returning home, there is her first love Obinze. They broke up shortly after she moved to America, for school, and has moved on, but still thinks about her. IMHO, she was justified in the break up, but could have made it work, but whatevs. In her time here, she has her aunt and cousin as support and a reminder of home, and a stark contrast to how one views oneself as, Dike born in Nigeria,views himself more American than African, and a few boyrfriends that teach her lessons about herself along the way. The writing is witty and I like Ifem’s no nonsense way of thinking and ambition. The only thing is I am not quite satisfied with the ending. Also, the middle dragged on forever! I started and ended with fervor, but the middle killed me and there were too many characters introduced that I could not remember. In the middle of the book, it it mainly focused on Obinze, and his attempts to get America, as he was obsessed with it from childhood and his life then and now. He ends up in London, and unfortunately, no further (Not a spoiler, btw). His journey was interesting, as I had no idea how Africans were/ are treated and the struggle and hoops people have to jump through to get over here, but it just wasn’t as engaging to me as Ifem’s story and blog. All in all it is a good book, that is extremely eye opening, and some parts relatable to me, and I would recommend it for others to read. For me, it was just okay though. I think part of the problem was that there was so much hype and awards given, that it built up intangible expectations for me, mentally, that the only outcome was a mind explosion or leaving a little jaded. However, I would like to read her other works, as she is ridiculously, brilliant.
If you like thought provoking novels about race, sociology, learning about different cultures, engaging blog posts about political ideas, class distinctions in America and abroad (specifically Nigeria and London), smart writing, cultural assimilation, self discovery and growth, then this book if for you.
Random question, do y’all like the author blurbs, or nah? Let me know how to improve my blog!
Any who, I will leave you with a line from the book that resonated with me: “She had, finally, spun herself fully into being.”