Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

AmericanahIn January, I read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This book was also recommended to me by a co-worker, although it was a different co-worker than who recommended Born to Run.

Here is the Amazon summary of Americanah:

“Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.”

Basically, this story has two perspectives: Ifemelu and Obinze. Although they are living very different lives, their stories intertwine. While I enjoyed both perspectives, I really enjoyed reading Ifemelu’s story. I am currently serving as an AmeriCorps at a non-profit that works with youth on leadership around different areas of justice, and racial justice is often a huge issue that we deal with (our location in Memphis makes it particularly relevant). In one of our workshops, we work with the students on defining race and the goal is for the students to come to the realization that race is a social construct. Reading this book really helped me expand my thinking on this because it explores Ifemelu’s embracing of race as a part of her identity, something that didn’t necessary exist before she came to America.

“If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here’s to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.”

My rating: 5/5 stars. I literally did not want this book to end. I loved reading Ifemelu’s story. This book consistently challenged my thinking while simultaneously supporting a lot of the perspectives I have gained over the past year. It is serious and funny and full of love. (If you read this book as well, and you like it, I would recommend the movie Dear White People, too.)

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