I’ve been dreading writing this review since the day I finished reading the book.
I’m not entirely sure why, but I almost don’t feel qualified enough to even have an opinion about Americanah.
To start off with, there are a ton of things I didn’t know the meanings of, which made me feel too detached from the book. Somehow the book kept feeling highly academic for me, a wakefulness too out of reach for me to easily grasp and follow.
It didn’t at all feel like a novel but it felt more like a school textbook that was crammed with information. At times, it was like I was in a classroom and Americanah was attempting to teach me great lessons that kept being demonstrated in the most direct and uninspiring ways. Lessons that I’m left to assume are based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s own personal experiences as an African from Nigeria in America.
The book is about a young woman who leaves home to study in the States when her University keeps having insistent strikes.
The book actually begins with her decision to move back home after 7 years in the USA and it works itself back to where it all started, in Nigeria when she was just a school girl.
From the very first pages the book launches itself into revealing the challenges and struggles of living as a black immigrant in a foreign country.
All the parts I could understand were quite an eye opener but I still struggled with the excerpts from Ifemelu’s blog posts.
The book title Americanah is actually a label used for people who leave Nigeria and come back home altered and changed; in their accents, in how they undermine their home country, and how they are grieved and ashamed by the same things that were once their only way of life. The book takes us on Ifemelu’s journey of refusing to transform into an Americanah, resolving to remain an authentic version of herself.
The book is told through two characters, Ifemelu and Obinze, her first love.
The book seems determined to making Ifemelu an incredibly unlikeable character, her observations about her surroundings and people in her life are always in a tiresomely unflattering and judgemental tone. Even as a young school girl she always comes across as emotionally inept and distant. The character is very annoying.
After many years of trying to be an American citizen, Obinze and his mother eventually uncover a way to smuggle him into Britain. A difficult life ensues his move there which finally sees him being deported back home to Nigeria.
In contrast to his constant bad luck, Ifemelu’s life as a blogger flourishes in America.
The book is at times quite depressing because of the gruesome realities that Chimamanda tackles in her book.
I know for sure this is not a book you only read once, so I look forward to reading Americanah again and reintroducing myself to all its pages. I can only hope that the next time, it’ll be an enlightened and restored re-connection.
Have you ever felt like a traitor for not liking a book, everyone seems to love? Are you always able to give an honest review?
Photo By: Lonwabo Zimela