Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of those sweeping, beautifully written books that just inspires you to sit down and write, whether you have something to write about or not, simply because you are overwhelmed by the beauty and you want to be part of it.
The novel is about so many things: love, race, immigration, writing, learning who you are, finding home. Despite what some may think, it’s not really a love story. Sure, Ifemelu and Obinze’s relationship and stories are intertwined, but it’s really Ifemelu’s story of finding herself and coming of age. She finds herself and her voice (literally, through her blogs). Obinze’s story, while interesting, is secondary.
I would really love to follow Ifemelu’s blogs. Her race blog, from the perspective of an African in America, seemed particularly interesting. I’ve found myself speculating on what she would say about recent racial events, especially the police shooting issues that have come to a head in the last year.
I was super disappointed by the ending. I felt like Ifemelu had become this independent, strong woman, but her weakness was men who bored her – or at least didn’t respect her. I get that Achide wanted it to be Obinze as the only man that was really her equal and respected her, but I felt like him leaving his wife, and Ifemelu waiting for him, really wasn’t the “feminist ending” I was expecting. I mean, she went on with her life, but really she was waiting for him to leave his wife that he didn’t really love – the “right” thing for him to do. The whole thing was too neat and very unsatisfying. I’m not sure what it says about me that I didn’t like the happy ending, but it really just seemed wrong. Ifemelu needed to get over Obinze, I think. And maybe it was right for him to leave his wife that he didn’t love – I certainly like that better than Ifemelu as his mistress.
For some reason, though, I just really felt uncomfortable with it. It just didn’t ring true to me with the characterization of Ifemelu. Honestly, I think that I would have prefered that she become comfortable being single since all of the men she dated were disappointing, and Obinze had gone on with his life and changed in the time they were apart. I wish Achide had shown that a woman can be strong and powerful without a man in her life.