I had looked forward to reading this book. I heard Adichie interviewed and the book sounded intriguing. But, I must say, I was disappointed. Americanah dragged. In fact, I found myself skimming and waiting for it to end. This book had a lot of positives and with a good editor could have been a great book.
As for the positives: 1) beautiful writing. Here are some examples that took my breath away.
“She did not tell him this, because it would hurt him to know she had felt that way for a while, that her relationship with him was like being content in a house but always sitting by the window and looking out.”
“And her joy would become a restless thing, flapping its wings inside her, as though looking for an opening to fly away.”
“Their silence was full of stones.”
“. . . and Ifemelu was surprised that he seemed to recognize the ego of others, while blinded in the fog of his own.”
“There was something in him, lighter than ego but darker than insecurity, that needed constant buffing, polishing, waxing.
“Their mutual dislike was a smoldering, stalking leopard in the room.”
These are just a few of the beautifully written passages.
2) Adichie created two interesting characters. They both held my interest and kept me reading.
3) I enjoyed reading about the different perceptions of race from the point of view of American blacks and African blacks–this was something I had not thought about before.
4) The descriptions of Nigeria and its people were also well done and helped give me a view of a different people and culture.
So. . . what could I possibly not enjoy about this book? The problem for me was it went on and on and on. We heard so much about race I got tired of reading about it. She told the same story from many different layers–from the point of view of her blogging self, from the point of view of conversations with her various friends and from the point of view of interior dialogue. We only need to hear it one way.
The same goes for nearly every theme in the book (and there were several). Let’s just hear it or see it once. I felt as if the author was spoon feeding me. She seemed to feel we couldn’t get it unless we heard it over and over.
There are many parts of the book I wondered about the relevance. How did this action, event, character move the story forward? Instead it often slowed the story down. Therein my frustration started and I began skimming.
Would I recommend this book to my friends, probably not. Read it but do so with a red pen!
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