I wasn’t sure what to expect from “Americanah.” I’ve heard many good things about Ms. Adichie’s work, but with the book being almost 600 pages I was afraid of committing to it. Am I glad I did. From the opening pages I was hooked into the characters and the plot. This book didn’t feel like I was reading it but rather that I was experiencing it.
We begin with present Ifemelu as she prepares to return to Nigeria, her country of origin. She’s spent her college and post-grad years in the U.S. but now decides it’s time to return home. The book flashes back and together Adichie weaves Ifemelu’s story through flashbacks and present-day episodes.
We also meet the character of Obinze, Ifemelu’s high school boyfriend. Several chapters are devoted to his point-of-view which adds commentary to Ifemelu’s perspective. Towards the end of the novel the past catches up to the present and the two perspectives merge, all done so seemlessly it’s hard to tell exactly where it happened.
There’s so many layers to this book it’s hard to pick just one. We could talk about modern-day Nigeria written by a Nigerian writer, the immigrant experience, the view of American race-relations from a non-American Black perspective, or about finding and maintaining love across decades, continents, and conflicts. All of these layers add depth to the characters and made me feel as if each one could step off the page and I’d know them immediately and we could grab coffee and pick up the story where it ends. Specifically, Adichie wrote some of the best male characters I’ve encountered from a female writer. I felt like many of them could’ve been men that I’ve known and grown up with.
All in all I would recommend this book as
a top read. It is a commitment. The layers of meaning and rich characters make it worth it in the end.