Americanah is the first novel I have read by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. As expected, after reading two of her essays, this book has a strong female character and focuses on racism, in this case, racism particularly in the United States.
This novel, for some reason, seemed to take forever to read. I don't know if it was my mood or something about the book, but I was surprised to have taken so long to get through it. It started off great; I was drawn in immediately. I think somewhere along the way, I lost momentum, but did eventually got back into it. Adichie has a beautiful way with words and I have found it to be genius in her essays how she uses language to make an impact in such a concise way. With a novel, there is a story being told and characters to develop, so it isn't as concise, but I think that it would have kept my attention more had it been a little tighter. There were a few times where I felt that the message Adichie was trying to get across wasn't being shown but rather a monologue or speech given to a character. I wish that would have been done differently.
The main character is Ifemelu. An intelligent, strong young woman from Nigeria. The love of her life is Obinze who is a charming and resourceful young man. Together, they are planning their future together. Ifemelu then gets an offer to go to America which is Obinze's dream. Unfortunately, Obinze isn't able to follow and he becomes an illegal immigrant. In the time Ifemelu is in the U.S., she drifts apart from Obinze, their lives leading them in different ways and different experiences.
Over a decade later, Ifemelu realizes that she wants to return home to Nigeria. Returning home is not always easy and there is still something missing for both Ifemelu and Obinze. The two star-crossed lovers attempt to reconnect, but things have changed.
Some of the things I loved about this story is learning about Nigeria, and Nigerian culture. Adichie uses Nigerian words, expressions and phrases including the title itself. The story also explains some of the American phrases, ways of thinking that are foreign and confusing to Nigerians.
There are some very poignant observations made about race and class. The fact that race was not an issue for Ifemelu in Nigeria, we recognize race through her experiences and reactions to it. We see this through Obinze too during his time in London and how he is treated by his fellow colleagues.
At the heart of the book is a love story. Ifemelu and Obinze love each other and despite their distance and the very different lives they have lead, their hearts stay steadfast in their love.
Bookworm Rating: 🐛🐛🐛🌱