I remember reading Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus, and being consumed by those books. For some odd reason, I found reading Americanah much harder. It took me a few weeks to read it. Not because I didn't have time. But it felt like work. I didn't have the same ease I usually would have, when reading something that really interested me. It was almost as if I was reading it only because everyone else had read it. Before I got the book, I was aware that it got mixed reviews - people either loved it or were really underwhelmed. I think it's an okay book. Something to pass the time with when there's nothing else to do.
I also found the book to be mildly depressing. It seemed like none of the characters in the book were happy. Maybe that's why I wasn't thrilled about it. When I read, I like to immerse myself in the characters and their situations. To me, it felt like Ifemelu's moving to and living in America was a terrible situation for her. She seemed more depressed than anything. Let's not even get into Obinze's catastrophic foray in England. I felt very sorry for the guy. But it makes you wonder about the hundreds/thousands of Nigerians who are going through the exact same thing.
Additionally, I felt like I was being preached at by Ms. Adichie, via Ifemelu's blog posts. There was an underlying sense of "This is what you should think about America, white people, natural vs relaxed hair, etc." At different times, I completely skipped the blog posts. There was this condescending tone about them that I didn't appreciate.
My favorite parts were Ifemelu's relationships...
I liked the BA (Before America) relationship with Obinze - first love, passionate and all-consuming. The AA (After America) relationship with him was understandable, yet disappointing. I'm all for True Love, but not at the expense of cheating on your spouse.
I personally think Ifemelu was an idiot to cheat on and break up with Curt. Maybe I'm biased because I had a secret fantasy of dating a hawt, young, rich white guy - Yes, I mean Ryan Gosling. I think Curt loved her the best way he knew how to. And truth be told, Ifemelu was the one who was prejudiced against their interracial relationship.
I have to throw in Blaine, for completeness. I didn't like him one bit. End of story.
Erm, I think that's all I have to say about Americanah. I don't feel like getting into the natural vs relaxed hair debate. It's simply overdone and over-argued.
I will leave you with my favorite part of the book though...
HILARIOUS! Moreso because I had African Francophone friends, and I could picture them talking like this.
This is the 4th book I've read this year - Sense and Sensibility, Americanah, Swallow and some book depicting the Ogonis and exploitation of their land/waters for oil. I have to read 4 more to catch up with my goals by the end of August. Any recommendations? And please, no more Nigerian authors. I've had my fill for now.
UPDATE: Eeeek! I've read 5 books this year! How could I forget There Was a Country?! I only liked the first 2 parts though.