I just really dug this book, y’all. It’s a long read for sure, and I was stoked to be along for the ride. The story is expertly told and I hung on for every word. Also, I really really wish that Ifemelu’s blog, “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black” was real because I would read the shit out of it. Is it real? Has someone made it real? I’m just assuming no but I also haven’t researched.
I’m 90% sure I bought this for my mom one Christmas and I’m a little mad she never turned around and told me to read it. This is largely the story of two people, though one dominates the narrative and I was definitely more invested in her story. Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love at their high school in Lagos, Nigeria, a kind of persisting, forever love even as their lives take them in two wildly different directions. Ifemelu heads to to US for college but when Obinze tries to follow her, post-9/11 visa restrictions bar his way. Having lived her whole life in Nigeria, Ifemelu is dropped into life as a Black American and faces the day to day reality of what that means. Obinze joins an underground of undocumented labor in London when he deliberately overstays his temporary visa to seek opportunities he cannot find in Nigeria. The books sticks closer to Ifemelu and plays ping pong with timelines as she plans her return to Nigeria and recollects the life she has lived in America.
I just really loved the storytelling. I loved Ifemelu’s blog and her coming to terms with the identity America thrust upon her. I love her reasoned decision to return to her homeland and how everything about this fictional person feels so very real. I highly recommend reading this book and really giving yourself time to live with it.