Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah has been on my TBR for over three years now. And I finally read it! I have read Adichie’s nonfiction (We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele), and was excited to explore some of her fiction. I’ve heard good things about her other novels, but since this one was already on my shelf, it seemed like a good place to start.
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
(From Goodreads) 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.
While the other books by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that I’ve read so far have brilliantly discussed feminism, Americanah is a poignant commentary on race. It definitely made me think more deeply about what other people experience. I think my biggest takeaway from this book is to be more cognizant of what others are going through. I love books like this, because they broaden my own experience with different cultures and make me a more empathetic person.
And while I thought the discussion about race was extremely valuable, unfortunately, I didn’t love this book as much as I was expecting. I remember thinking, just a chapter or two into it, that I wound end up giving this five stars. But, while I liked the message and the characters, the story itself just didn’t do it for me. There was just a little too much going on. I liked that we got to see the different experiences of many different characters, but I wish she had just stuck with Ifemelu and Obinze – the other characters felt a little distracting at times. I didn’t dislike them, but felt they could be a bit overpowering at times, and their were a lot of them. To be fair, I think I might have enjoyed this book a little more had I not just read An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, because that is a great example of a novel that tackles race, with only a handful of characters.
I also think, that because of all of the extra characters and subplots, this book ran a little long and became convoluted towards the end. It was hard to keep track of what was going on at times. It’s not a short read, and I couldn’t help but wonder what this story would look like if it wasn’t nearly six-hundred pages long. For me, it might have been more impactful as a shorter story, without so many subplots getting in the way. But, overall, I did enjoy Americanah, and would recommend it for anyone looking to read more about race in America.
★★★☆☆ – I am kind of disappointed that I didn’t love Americanah more. I liked learning more about the challenges black people face in America – not that I wasn’t aware, but I feel like I understand better now. And I definitely got a little emotional reliving Barack Obama’s election. While Americanah is not a new favorite, I do think I learned a lot from it, which I really appreciate. I will definitely be reading more from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the future!
Have you read Americanah? Is there a book you love that discusses race, particularly in America? Let me know in the comments! I would love your recommendations!
Americanah is available in bookstores now. You can pick up your copy on Amazon.
To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and choose Americanah as one of your two free books.
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