Immigration, love, race and a sense of belonging fill the pages of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s fabulous novel Americanah.
The book is at it’s best when the narrator, Nigerian-born Ifemelu, writes about her experiences with race in America. Ifemelu immigrates to America for college and a better life. She begins to blog about her reflections on American culture and race — musings which are clear, blunt and truth-filled. She details experiences both big and small that show how prevalent racism continues to be in the U.S. She makes you think about your daily interactions with people and wonder how often racism happens around you while you go about your day. Ifemelu is a strong character, one with opinions to give who doesn’t hold back on letting her voice be heard through her blogs and conversations with others. But America also disarms her and throws her into depression. It is a world apart from what she knows, a place that is foreign, strange and lonely. This is the immigrant experience for many, and Adichie writes it with heart.
Throughout it all, Ifemelu finds love with many men. One a man she loved in Nigeria. Another a wealthy, amiable white man. And one who is, as she calls them, a Non-White American. Through these relationships Ifemelu not only learns about who she is and what she wants, but also the differences in dating someone of color from a place you know so well to dating a white man in a foreign land.
Toward the end Ifemelu returns to Nigeria. While the book still holds up and never feels false after she returns home, it truly shines when Ifemelu is in the U.S. Adichie has written an important book, detailing the realities we still face in America when it comes to race and immigrants.