This happened to be the fourth Chimamanda Adichie’s book I would be reading, having read The Thing Around Your Neck, Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun in the past. I’m guessing We Should All Be Feminists is the only one left that I haven’t read yet. Americanah was published in 2013 and it won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction that same year. I guess it was that good! 🙂
The story revolves around the lives of these two lovers; Ifemelu and Obinze. Theirs was a love that started way back in secondary school during the 1990s in Nigeria. They had met at a party organised by one of their classmates and immediately fell in love. During their undergraduate days, Ifemelu relocated to the United States to continue her education. They crafted out a master plan which involved them contacting regularly and Obinze finally coming to join her in America after he must have graduated from the university. However, this didn’t turn out to be.She had her moments of struggle, joblessness and depression and at the same time confronted the inevitable question of race while in America. During her early days in the US, she still kept in touch with Obinze until an incident happened which made it impossible for her to bring herself to contact him anymore. Days turned to months and she finally stopped contacting him and refused to read his emails leaving him confused as to what must have caused the sudden change.
Meanwhile, Obinze who had always nursed the desire to travel to America since he was young finally applied for visa after graduating from the university. He was denied visa numerous times. With no job and no opportunity to travel to the US, he was distraught. Finally he found a way to live illegally in London. After hustling for years, and just as he was about to become a citizen by engaging in a sham marriage, he was arrested and immediately deported.
13 years after leaving Nigeria, Ifem who was now a popular race blogger finally decides to return to Nigeria, leaving her boyfriend and selling her blog. Obinze on the other hand who was now a rich business man and married to a wife he had no feelings for was shocked when Ifem contacted him to inform him of her decision to come back home. When they eventually met, it was obvious the love they had for each other was very much alive. After days of secret affair with Ifem, Obinze after much consideration made the hard choice of leaving Kosi and going back to Ifem.
The main themes I could pick out from this book were love, race and maybe hair. Yes, hair. Different passages were devoted to talking about hair as the character herself was nurturing a natural hair. Love was evident all over the book and topic of race couldn’t have be blind even to an absent minded person, especially with the inclusions of different articles from Ifem’s race blog which made me feel like I was reading a non-fiction at some point.
I loved this book.I really did enjoy it. I loved the kind of love they shared. However, I wasn’t so in love with the two characters. I blamed her for cutting off contact with Obinze. Though the incident made her do that but still she could still have contacted him and not wait till she was coming back home before she eventually did. I also think she secretly hoped that he would leave his wife and come back to her. Obinze’s decision took me a little off guard. I was hoping the book was going to end with an undefined ending (which is unlike me) because I didn’t want to think that Obinze would leave Kosi. Well, I guess I felt sorry for Kosi. She was the ideal wife but definitely not the kind of wife for Obinze. I mean, he shouldn’t have married her at all in the first place, she was definitely not his type of woman. I’m guessing, probably if he had married someone like Ifem, maybe just maybe he wouldn’t have left her. Just like a friend said, their love story was something else!
I just found out that the movie adaptation of this book is currently in the works and this brought a big smile to my face! Looking forward to it.
~“Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice.”-Chimamanda Adichie, Americanah~