Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I heard so many good things about this book that I was so excited to finally be able to pick it up and read it. After so many recommendations and positive reviews I was looking forward to making my own mind about this one.
This book highlights interesting and controversial topics about race, identity, and gender. Adichie, a Nigerian woman herself relates the life of Ifemelu, a girl born and raced in Nigeria that decides to move and study in The United States as there were education strikes in her home country. After initial struggles and possible signs of depression, she managed to overcome the obstacles of her new life and become a legal American Citizen.
The book moves between present and past and refers to Ifemelu’s love life. Obinze, her first, and possibly only real love who she left behind in Nigeria comes to her mind as she decided to move back home after 13 years of living abroad in the U.S.
I think the beginning of the book is good, it provides context of the characters and as the novel progresses, I could personally relate to some of Ifemelu’s experiences. As an immigrant myself (and from a third country may I add) there are certain similarities I could noticed from my own experiences. Comments that people make to you or assumptions about your life is something you will have to face once you live abroad, as the years go by you develop a ‘thick’ skin for them.
One of the small problems for me was, as the story continues it becomes a bit repetitive, is experience after experience after experience about situations that have a similar message, a black person in the U.S. will face racism at some point. Don’t get me wrong, some of them were honest anecdotes that raced awareness about society and how it can be presumptions or make comments without realizing that they are not harmless, I recognized that sometimes I can make unjustified assumptions about someone. Yet, towards the end I felt I was reading an essay that needed so many words and pages to make its point, the same point you already comprehended within two chapters of the novel.
The other issue I had, was the fact that Ifemelu personality came across as judgmental and self-centered generalizing that every person in the U.S. (or most of them) is ignorant and only sees race which I don’t think is fair. She had a blog (this bit I liked) where she shared all her thoughts and opinions about incidents that she witnessed or events that happened to her that she attributed to race.
The book is beautifully written with complex characters that can influence you in a good way and when I was halfway through this book, I was excited, I think the concept of the book is interesting and important. It had a good effect on me as I could relate to some aspects as I mentioned before. However, it went too long, I think it could have been a lot shorter and it will still reflect the important point of view of the author.
Overall, I liked it, and if you enjoy self-exploration stories about immigration and the search for identity you might enjoy this one.