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  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah review

After being very inspired by the Ted Talk of 'a danger of a single story', (check it out if you have never heard it before) I was really interested in reading one of her novels that I've heard a lot about: 'Americanah.'

Americanah follows the story of Ifemelu. The novel starts near to the the end and then goes back to when she was a teenager, and takes you through her experiences as she grows up. The story is also sometimes told from her high-school first love, Obinze, but the majority of the novel is taking you through the life of Ifemelu. It takes you through the attempts to adapt to a new culture of America, and the challenges that this faces.

The novel is about culture and acceptance, and it is a novel which you can't really forget about. The subjects on race and identity are really prominent and make the novel extremely powerful. You get to know the characters life so well, because what I really liked about the novel, it narrated scenes which don't seem particularly important or impactful at the time, but it means you get to know the character so well and it almost feels auto-biographical due to the detail you read about her every day life.

The romance aspect of the novel worked really well due to the fact it was told in a steady and realistic way, and I think that made it even the more enjoyable. It is quite predictable, largely due to the structure of the novel, but personally I did not think that ruined it, but instead added to it, because it gives you a perspective of assessing situations and why those certain ones went wrong, or why it turned out that certain way ect. Another depth of the story is through the blog that Ifemelu runs, predominantly about race, and the novel includes little snippets of her posts, which I thought was a really good way to change up the narrative and inform the reader in a different, more direct way.

I would say that the the blurb is deceiving, predominantly focusing on the love story between Obinze and Ifemelu, however although this adds to it, its really not the most prominent part of the novel. The novel has more of a complex structure, in the way it doesn't have a 'beginning' 'middle' and 'end' and no certain moment of climax, I didn't find it gripping in the way of wanting to know what is going to happen next, but instead the writing style and the little glimpses of humour, combined with the really likeable characters of Obinze and Ifemelu, make you want to pick the book up and carry on reading. After reading other peoples reviews, I do understand the fact that this novel is empty of one physical plot, but instead lots of different stories ingrained into the lives of the characters, which show an overall message about race and identity. I don't think this is a negative thing, I just think its important to accept while reading. As I said, I didn't find it boring, due to the great writing style, but to read this and really enjoy it I think it is important to accept what it is and not force it to try and be something else. I honestly felt like it was like I was just looking into someones everyday life, (which wasn't so every day) which I actually really liked.

Overall, a very powerful novel written which I would urge you to read. It covers the topics of race, identity and power so well and one which would spark many conversations! Its more casual narration fitted with beautiful imagery creates a sometimes humorous, powerful and prominent read in todays society.

“Why did people ask “What is it about?” as if a novel had to be about only one thing.”

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