Current Lit · Reviews from the Nook

Book Review: Americanah

Erica’s Experience

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Title: Americanah

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Genre: Current Lit

Page Count: 588

Publication Date: April 2013


I received Americanah from one of my former roommates before she moved out of my old apartment last November. You know how it goes– when you move you purge your possessions. This was a novel she decided she wanted to pass along to someone else, wether it was us or to a lending library in the area, and I’m so glad it ended up on my bookshelf.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes with a cheeky humor that only someone that has deemed two separate nations home can truly understand. Americanah is honest and brazen, as it should be, while remaining intensely entertaining. I drank this novel up like an ice cold glass of water, dousing myself in the humbling truth that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to race in America. Adichie artfully depicts the audacities POC face daily that are too often ignored when you don’t experience racial prejudices. This a digestible read that doesn’t sugarcoat reality for anyone.

There is a quote within Americanah that stuck with me as I read. It happens when the main character Ifemelu is at a dinner party hosted by her African American boyfriend’s sister. His sister, Shan, says,

“You know why Ifemelu can write that blog, by the way? Because she’s African. She writes from the outside.”

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I think what hit me the hardest about this quote, again, was the truth of it. I could go into why this quote breaks my heart and infuriates me all at the same time, but I don’t know what good that would actually do us. Instead, I am going to link a few articles about ways we can actual make everyday changes to fight racism. Ranting on the internet gets us nowhere, but making conscience efforts in our every day routine? That might actually do something.

UNICEF’s 5 Ways to Fight Racism and Zenephobia

NPR’s 5 Ways to Channel Anger into Action to Fight Racism

My only, and biggest, issue with this novel was the love story that seemed to be the bread of the story’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich. All of the flavor and importance was smooshed between a bland start and finish about the main character, Ifemelu and her first love, Obinze’s romance. While I found Obinze’s story– which was thrown in haphazardly between sections about Ifemelu– interesting, the focus on their love story was unnecessary. The novel could have finished about 50 pages before it did when Ifemelu and Obinze reconnect, leaving their ending up for interpretation while still keeping the true message of the novel intact.

Even with this in mind I would suggest this novel to anyone that likes a thought-provoking adult coming-of-age story with a societal message seeping through every page. I plan on doing as my roommate did before me and will pass it along in a lending library or to an interested friend. This is a book that should be shared and not left on a bookshelf collecting dust.

You can purchase Americanah here if you are interested in reading. I will be reviewing Chicago by Brian Doyle for the month of August, which you can purchase here if you’d like to read along. The review will be up by the end of the month. Stay tuned for this month’s florilegium, coming out this Sunday, August 8th.


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