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Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Book Title: Americana
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Format: Paperback
Rating 5 out of 5 stars

I have been curious about Chimamanda since I heard her recite her work on Beyonce's Flawless track. During a recent trip to Barnes and Noble, I picked up Americanah to read when I saw it on display in the middle isle of the store.  I did not read the synopsis of the book.  I just dived right in to read it.  The first chapter was completed it one sitting.  I could not believe how engulfed I became with Ifemelu and her life.

As I read the text, I immediately felt a connection to Ifemelu.  At times, her life mirrored past experiences from my life.  I enjoyed growing with Ifemelu, as she transitioned from a teenager to a woman, as well as traveling with her to the United States and back to her home country.

Thinking about how Ifemelu struggled to transition from being African to an American intrigued me. Being an African-American born in the United States, I have never considered how difficult it is for any immigrant to adapt to the behaviors and standards of a new country.  Adichie forces the reader to realize how immigrants transition to being an American.   Consequently, Adichie highlights the role that identity plays in the humanity.  Ifemelu's character is significant throughout the text and impacts her relationships with others, as well as her transition from Nigeria to the United States and back to Nigeria.  Additionally, the reality of losing your identity or never having a real identity is illustrated in the text, and I understand how either instance can negatively impact someone's life, especially in the example of Aunty Uju and how she raised her son.

So many themes and life lessons are present throughout the text.  I appreciated the lessons that I learned about race and how Africans perceive it in comparison to African-Americans. I have never actually considered the "Non-Black" perception, but Adichie changed my understanding.  The differences are immense.  Adichie's talent in portraying racism in the United States, England, and Nigeria is sprinkled throughout the text.  Following the lives of Ifemelu and Obinze leaves you considering the hierarchy of race between Africans and African Americans.  Reading the blog posts of Ifemelu, I appreciated the way Adichie drilled important realities that most people do not want to acknowledge. Even the shallowness of the educated Nigerians, who had returned after a hiatus to the United States painted a portrait that is all too familiar.  Sexism is another theme that is portrayed in the text.  From Ifemelu's pursuit of employment to Kimberly's husband,  Adichie highlights the perception of gender roles and how these perceptions impact relationships, especially the relationship between Aunty Uju and The General, as well as between Ifemelu's parents.

Even though the premise of the book is an enduring love story, it is a must read for everyone.  I do not believe that Americanah caters to a particular type of person because everyone can learn something and identify with various aspects of the text.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  As I read, I could not help but to begin to think of ways to incorporate this text in my World Literature or Composition II college courses.  I can envision teaching an entire semester, using only this book.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quickly evolved to being one of my favorite writers.  In 2010, I added Purple Hibiscus to my TBR pile based on the recommendation of a fellow book lover. I cannot wait to devour that text like I did "Americanah." Also, I am interested in reading Half of a Yellow Sun, which is about the Nigeria-Biafra war.   Honestly, I would love to meet Adichie and listen to her speak.  She commanded my attention in "Flawless" and Americanah.  I want to hear what else she has to say.

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