Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Americanah is the story of two Nigerians, Ifemelu and Obinze, who fell in love as kids in Nigeria. As they get older, Ifemelu heads to America for college, but Obinze is unable to get a visa to America and forced to live an undocumented life in London. This story follows their lives as they experience the struggles of immigration, racism, and the ability to stay close to their loved ones from far away.
I first decided to pick up this book after watching a really good Ted talk by the author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I will link her talk at the very end of this post if you are interested in watching it (you should, it’s very good). Overall, I really enjoyed this book! Beware, it is long, but it is so worth it. In order to write this reivew, I think I am going to talk about the book through three adjectives that I would use to describe it- Honest, Clever, and Empathic.
The things that are said throughout this story, can very easily be classified as honest. The story is told through the eyes of Ifemelu and Obinze as they observe the world around them. The observations that these two make throughout the story hold nothing back regarding their new experiences of being black in England and America. This book takes racism and the hardships of being an immigrant and talks about it in a very truthful way. I loved that the book seemed to cover so many different subtopics in regards to race and immigration through all of the different characters that Ifemelu and Obinze interact with. When I say subtopics I mean that it included mental health, interracial relationships, finding a job as an immigrant, growing up as a minority, returning to your home as an immigrant, maintaining your identity, etc. This book was able to go deeply into each of these subtopics without becoming boring because of the honest thoughts that the main characters provided.
This book had so many clever lines throughout it! Obinze had good lines, but I got a big kick out of some of the things that Ifemelu would say and think. Ifemelu was a character that had a hard time not saying things that she truly thought and some of the things that came from her were so funny. I especially loved reading her blog posts. A lot of the time, her chapters would end with a blog post that she wrote with her observations on race and her posts were so clever (I could describe her posts using more adjectives, but I think the word “clever” sums them up best). I also really enjoyed reading Ifemelu’s journey of becoming a blogger since I am just starting out my own blog.
I think the best thing about this book is the fact that it evokes so much empathy for the struggles of minorities and immigrants. I definitely found this book eye opening and I hope that I have become a more empathetic person from reading this. The characters seem so real because the things that they go through are things that many real life people have gone through. Chimamanda was born in Nigeria and came to America for college, which lets you know that a lot of her experiences probably translated into this story. I don’t think that I’m going to forget too much of what I read in this story and I hope that it stays with me.
I know that Chimamanda also has other books such as Purple Hibiscus, The Thing Around Your Neck, Half of a Yellow Sun, We Should All Be Feminists, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Suggestions, etc. I would definitely be interested in picking up another one of her books after reading this one. Most likely, We Should All Be Feminists as I imagine it is a lot like her Ted talk. Also, I think it is a much quicker read than Americanah, which was 588 pages. Overall, Americanah is a book that I think could benefit everyone in some way, shape, or form.