Synopsis: In Nigeria, Ifemelu and Obinze meet and fall instantly in love. Ifemelu later goes to America for university, and Obinze, whose great dream has been to go to America, is unable to follow. In America, Ifemelu starts a blog about race, and the book begins with Ifemelu thinking about returning to Nigeria. Weaving back and forth in time, Americanah follows both Ifemelu and Obinze as they go from youths to adults.
Review: This was a very thought-provoking book. It felt a bit like a lecture and was overly long in places, but it is a wonderful love story and is fabulously written.
Americanah takes us from Lagos, Nigeria, to East Coast America, and follows the love story of Ifemelu and Obinze, who might be one of the most perfectly suited couples I’ve ever read. They meet early in life, and fall instantly in love. Their attraction and love for each other is apparent throughout the book. The reader feels their chemistry, and I believed their love. They seemed a very realistic couple, apart and together, and I wanted them to each find their happiness. But I will admit that at times it felt like the author was keeping them apart (mainly on Obinze’s side), and their separation felt forced to me in certain places.
The book description on Goodreads is a bit misleading. Well, not misleading so much but rather spelling out everything that happens in the book, and some things mentioned in the description don’t happen until very late in the book. So that was irritating to have the entire book spelled out.
I read this book on my Kindle, and the paperback version is 588 pages long, and this book could’ve been shorter. Sections feel like lectures about race and America, and these were very interesting, but could’ve been shortened. Or perhaps woven into the story a bit better as there is very little action in this book. I’m talking about Ifemelu’s blog posts. They were interesting and necessary to the story, but they seemed to take me out of the story and felt more like they were the author’s opinions, and not necessarily Ifemelu’s opinions. So, I wished they could’ve been weaved into the narrative a bit more.
But even though there isn’t a whole lot of plot, the characters are interesting. I liked Ifemelu and Obinze, but my favorite characters were Aunty Uju and her son, Dike. Aunty Uju is the mistress of a Nigerian military man, and her story was poignant and touching. Dike’s story was full of happiness and sadness and great family love. I just really liked them, and the story felt fully alive when they were in the picture. I also really enjoyed reading the sections that were set in Nigeria.
There are a lot of characters in this book. Many people are mentioned once and then never again, so no need to memorize each character you meet – you may not ever read their name again. But then every once in a while someone who was mentioned once would pop up again with no introduction but their name, and I was flipping back through my notes to remember who they were.
The writing in this book was outstanding. I underlined many different passages. It was powerful and literary, but had ease to it. Sometimes I feel literary fiction tries too hard, the writing feeling forced and too flowery. But there is none of that here. The words literally glide off the page, and I really enjoyed reading Adichie’s writing. So despite the length, the book moves quickly and I loved the writing. I will definitely be reading Adichie’s other works.
Bottom Line: Extremely well written, but parts do feel like lectures about race and America. Thought-provoking, but overly long.
Added to my To Read List:
- Other works by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, and We Should All Be Feminists
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe: I actually just picked this book up at a library book sale a month ago, and it’s mentioned a bit here, so I’ll try to get to this one sooner rather than later.
- The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene: This is one character’s favorite book, and I’ve never read it.