It's been ages since I last posted. I've been so busy with mocks that I had to take a short break. I'm back today, however, with a review of the book "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche.
When I first received this book for Christmas I scanned the internet for reviews. Opinions varied greatly. However, I decided t approach the book with an open mind and see which side of the fence I would find myself on.
This novel tackles the themes of love, lust and life in a new country,
The novel jumps between the locations of Nigeria, America and England. It also jumps spontaneously from year to year. When Ifemelu, the headstrong, confidant girl, and Obinze, the intelligent, kind boy meet they seem like a perfect match. In the first minutes of knowing each other they sense a shared kinship. The two date for all of their teen years and through three years in college.
Then Ifemelu decides she must go to America to finish her college education. Obinze vows to follow her over once he finishes college, as their marriage was forthcoming. Sadly though , Obinze cannot make it to America as the events of 9/11 put a military cordon over the border.
The novel follows Ifemelu, with the new name of Ngozi, in America.Struggling to get a Visa and living illegally, she cannot find a job. She gets a babysitting post working for a woman called Kimberly who feels the need to refer to every black woman as beautiful. Kimberly lives in a stately home and donates generously to charity.
We see life in America through the eyes of an illegal immigrant who soon finds out that America is not all she had hoped it to be. It is sad but interesting to see how a girl with a good education and a willingness to work is dumped at the bottom of the pile because of her ethnicity.
The absence of her lover, Obinze, in her life provokes a yearning within the reader for the two to be together.
We also learn of Obinze's struggles in London, also living illegally.
For me Ifemelu's strong character overpowers all of the others. She is confidant, brave, warmhearted and tactical. Good intentions are at the roots of everything she does.
Despite the heroic figure, she has a relatable, likeable quality.
I also enjoyed the use of characters in the novel. The secondary characters each serve an important purpose and none are put in to just fill space.
In my whole life, I have not read a book that has taught me so much.
This book taught me about middle class life in Nigeria and Africa in general. In ways I was oblivious to the expanse of the middle class in Africa. We so often hear of the millions who are starving and the few corrupt diamond mine owners, How come we are so unaware of the expansive middle class. Africa is the fasted growing middle class yet we're taught to look on them as people who cannot fend for themselves. This book shows that many people living in Africa live a very similar life to mine.
I was also made aware of a fear of interfering with or offending African culture. We witness people give Ifemelu praise for doing something extraordinarily ordinary. Despite never ever admitting it, it is blatantly obvious that she is receiving this praise because she is black. Through the eyes of a Nigerian immigrant it seems absurd that people are so afraid of acknowledging her dark skin. By the end of the novel it seems laughable that someone would be offended by someone stating the colour of their skin.
In hindsight, I realise that the majority of the bad reviews were patriotic Americans who were so offended that the idealised American dream had been tarnished by an immigrant. Too many times I read the sentence "If you don't like America, get out" in the reviews.
I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone and I cannot wait to read more titles by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
That concludes today's post. I'll talk to ye soon.
Be sure to add my snapchat @paleninterestin as I've been really active on it recently.
Thanks for reading,