Photographer: @Joecudjoe

Photographer: @Joecudjoe

Hello I'm Ori, Nigerian American lifestyle blogger and career consultant encouraging you to live boldly. Be original. 

Americanah

Americanah

Once again, I have fallen in love with another book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. When I first got the book, I didn't think I would get through all of it during my winter break, but here I am 2 weeks later, already writing up the review. This book addresses love, marriage, wealth, race, social class, immigration, suicide and of course culture.  

Dear Non-American Black, when you make the choice to come to America, you became black. Stop arguing.
— Pg. 222

This book is nothing like the other books of her's I have read. Chimamanda has a skill for seamlessly incorporation racial activism, feminism, realism and romance all in one story. The main character, Ifemelu became a famous race blogger after she migrated to the U.S. Here work made me reflect on my writing, and challenged me to push my limits a little. The book felt like an interesting history book that caught me up on all that I've missed in Nigeria. I also loved all the character development as the story sores through different time periods. 

I resonated with the way Ifemelu questioning her parents religious beliefs; how she noticed their flaws and moments of hypocrisy. I agreed with almost every observation her character mentioned about her aunties inappropriate relationship. Africans seem to have selective attention and start to fuss when something goes wrong, (Like when her aunt got pregnant) but pretend like they didn't know what was happening the whole time. The book covered so many important topics that we don't address in Nigerian culture. Through her experience in America and Obinze's experience in London, the reader gets to understand what African immigrants go through. Most of my memory from middle school was of getting bullied for having nappy hair, being called dark-skinned (which I'm not btw, I'm like milk chocolate, but anything non-light-skinned is considered dark here) and being made fun of with those click sounds they assume all Africans make when speaking their language. 

They would never understand why people like him, who were raised well, fed and watered but mired in dissatisfaction, conditioned from birth to look towards somewhere else, eternally convinced that real lives happened in that somewhere else, were now resolved to do dangerous things, illegal things so as to leave, none of them starving or raped, or from burned villages, but merely hungry for choice and certainty.
— Pg. 278

I felt super enlightened because my immigration story is similar yet different. I was fortunate enough to win a lottery and have pretty easy passage to citizenship. Though I know my parents had it hard, I now see how much harder it would be for an undocumented immigrant to get a good job, and get legal papers that allows them to earn a living. 

So three black women in maybe 2 thousand pages of women’s magazine, and all of them are biracial or racially ambiguous....not one of them looks like me, so I can’t get clues for makeup from these magazines...Do you see why magazines like Essence even exist?
— Pg. 297
You know you can just say black, not every black person is beautiful
— Pg. 149

Through Ifemelu's relationships with the white guy, and the African American professor, the reader see's America through different perspectives. And one of my favorite themes in the book was the unspoken idea that a woman had no other option but to rely on a man to survive. You see this through Aisha who patiently waited for an Igbo guy to marry her so that she would have the papers that would allow her to travel back home and visit her mother. You see this in the stories of all the vain Lagos girls who dated rich married men and lived lavish lives that could easily get ripped from them at any moment. And you see this also with Ifemelu who really got far in the U.S due to her relationships with men and her writing skills. 

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To be honest, her character irritated me because of the way she treated Obinze. Though his character is too good to be true, there were many times when she was clearly at fault, but somehow the responsibility fell on him to fix everything. Of course as a girl, I understand why she couldn't face him after the experience she had, but it was no excuse for ignoring him all those years. While I was reading, I got impatient and skipped ahead to the part where her and Obinze finally meet. And of course the book ended in a pretty predictable way which I was happy about. But her character was allowed to get away with things that a normal Nigerian girl wouldn't get away with. It was her fault that he ended up marrying someone else, yet she treated him like it was his fault and basically pressured him to leave his marriage. From the American perspective, an unhappy marriage seems like the worst life sentence, so leaving to be with his one true love is what we all wanted to see. But from a traditional mindset, keeping a family together despite your feelings or the circumstances is vital. Family structure is one of the main things that separate African families from African American families. Besides, we all know many African parents who stay in their marriages due to their duty to their family, and not because of love.

Over all, the book was great, and I highly recommend it to you guys. 

‘So you still blogging?’
’Yes.’
’About race?’
’No, just about life. Race doesn’t really work here. I feel like I got off the plane in Lagos and stopped being black.’
— Pg. 475
Americanah
$9.01
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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Black History Month Reading list

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