Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Knopf, May 2013
477 pages, 5 stars
About the Book: As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.
Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives. —Goodreads.com
This novel is an extremely insightful and nuanced view of race in America and of how that affects relationships of all kinds. Told mostly from a Nigerian woman’s perspective (that of Ifemelu, but also Adichie herself), the story dissects race relations from an outsider’s point of view—paying attention to how African-Americans are treated differently by white people than Africans, and also how African-Americans treat Africans and vice versa.
The love story aspect of Americanah is very true to life. You all probably know how much I love romance novels, which often don’t have the weight of reality. But Obinze and Ifemelu have an intense relationship that spans decades and yet also incorporates years of silence, hurt feelings, other relationships (a marriage even), which makes it that much more real and that much more beautiful.
I’ve heard that there may be a movie made from this book, and I will be first in line!
Fashion Friday: My dear Ifem, welcome to the East Coast. The summers aren’t nearly as hot as in Nigeria, but because of the frigid winters your tolerance for heat has lessened. This cotton maxi dress will keep you cool and hug all the right curves.
These African turquoise earrings remind you of home, which inevitably reminds you of Obinze and the lazy afternoons when he became Ceiling. This deep red lipstick is a much better match for your skin than what is advertised as “great for all skin tones” (meaning shades of white) in mainstream magazines.
After a horrible incident with perming your hair, you decide to go completely natural—to the dismay of hairstylists, friends, and family. Coconut oil is a great natural hair moisturizer, though you may use many others, this is one of your favorites. You buy organic because of Blaine, your intellectual American boyfriend, who loves eating kale and quinoa and shopping at farmers markets. Before bed you cover your hair with this patterned, silk scarf to prevent breakage and to lock in moisture.
Slip these sandals on and enjoy the summer because you know you are not here to stay.