Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

AmericanahIfemelu is a teenager in Nigeria when she first meets Obinze.  Immediately, sparks fly, and from that moment forward they are inseparable.  However, the political reality in Nigeria works against them.  While at university, teacher strikes keep interrupting their education for long stretches.  Finally, Ifemelu is convinced by her family to try and finish her education abroad.  She is accepted at a school in Pennsylvania and travels to America to live with her Aunt.

Ifemelu tries everything to find a job to help pay her way in America, both legally and illegally.  No one is hiring, though, and out of desperation she answers a shady ad that is not what it seems.  Shame fills Ifemelu about what happens, so she cuts off contact with Obinze.  If she cannot forgive herself, she assumes that he will not forgive her either.  For 13 years she lives in America.  She finishes her degree and finds a job that will pay her way.  However, it’s just a job and she doesn’t really find her passion until she starts a blog.  The blog discusses issues of race from the perspective of a Non-American Black person.  The popularity of the blog astonishes her. She is able to live off her advertisers and speaking fees.  Yet something still seems to be missing in her life.

Meanwhile, back in Nigeria,  Obinze finishes his schooling and attempts to immigrate to England.  His life does not go quite as smoothly, and he is deported for working illegally.  Disillusioned and depressed, he returns to Nigeria an unemployed man. His luck changes finally, when through contacts of a friend, he is given an investment opportunity set up by a powerful man.  By the time Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, Obinze is wealthy, married, and a father.

The story of these two people is interesting, but where the book really shines is its witty commentary on people, immigrants, race, politics, and everything in between.  Not just American society, but also English and Nigerian. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche is funny and insightful, moving from scenes of a dinner party with wealthy academics, to a poor immigrant hair salon with ease.  I enjoyed this story very much.  I liked the characters, and was fascinated by the look into Nigerian society, as well as the experience of a foreigner here in America.  I definitely want to read another of her books!

Find and reserve this book in the library.


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