Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Format:  Paperback

Pages: 589 pages

Published: May 14 , 2013

Publisher: Anchor

Genre: Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Synopsis:
“Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland. “
As a constant victim of book hype, I  think by now I would have learned my lesson. But alas, I am again here to tell another cautionary tale. Most of my book-lover friends, all the press that it received, pointed Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the right direction to be another great read on my bookshelf. Unfortunately, this long book was excruciating to go through.

You see that highlighted the word “long”, because that is what this book was. I have nothing against long books. I love books that are long but only if the story go somewhere. That was not the case with Americanah. It was unnecessarily long. The story went nowhere. To me, there was no plot. If there was, it was not abundantly clear. I had a hard time telling which time frame she or he was in. The time kept jumping back and forth without any consistency. And the details? She would gloss over details, important parts that,not only needed but should be explained in clearer detail. She just placed them there, I feel, without any point or reason. I constantly turned pages back forth thinking that I missed important detail but found out that I didn’t.
She makes excellent points about race in America. But I felt the remarks and statements she writes were just thrown in there and it didn’t feel like there was an honest discussion about the issue. There were great and issues definitely need to be discussed more but there were some that I felt were based on stereotypes and not based on an honest perception of race in America. The character just assumes that all Americans act this way. Ifemelu also kept saying things that kept pissing me off, such her comments about mental health and black women who perm their hair. I have permed hair and her comments infuriated me about that. I understand it was said, to address societal expectations of black and their hair. But there were insulting remarks that I personally took offense to that I think it was unnecessary to say. Adiche does not really give readers the opportunity to think for themselves which is okay if you are writing a biography or a memoir. But if you are writing a fiction novel, you need to have a chance for open dialogue and understanding that not everyone is going to accept your conclusions.
I love reading about flawed female characters but Ifemelu’s personality and observation made me really despise her. Her observations and experiences were insightful but her superior thinking and quick judgement of others made her an annoying character. She was the type of character that was both real and unrealistic at the same time. You are unable to form a bond with her and actually appreciate the remarks that she makes. The other characters, or background scenery I like to call them, were thin and unnecessary to the story. If they were needed, Adiche should have provided more engaging and less invisible.
The writing was great but this read more like a biography than a fiction novel. Adiche can write but if I wanted to read her pontificating about certain issues, I would read her nonfiction work. I was expecting a novel and there was none here. Americanah had the chance to be an engaging story but in the end, it became to be an unsatisfying, tediously long , judgemental, unfunny novel. I was expecting an uplifting, insightful novel but was left with an uninspiring dud.
Overall Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Note: This book was picked as the winner of NYC’s One Book, One New York Reading Program. 

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