AUTHOR: Chimamanda Adichie
NUMBER OF PAGES: 515
PUBLISHER: Alfred A. Knopf
Americanah was the last of Chimamanda Adiche’s books that I read. Having read her other works, and watched interviews about the book, I sort of knew what to expect. I opened the book thinking that it was all about race and kinky hair. It was far more than that. This book is the life of a Nigerian in America. It unravels the truth about immigrant experiences and how circumstances shape our outcomes. Often times I have heard people say that reading books make you travel the whole world without leaving your bedroom, I found that accurate about Americanah. Being an immigrant to America, I could relate to even the tiniest detail of the book. I could relate to the scene at the hairdresser’s shop, the cutting of relaxed or permed hair and the struggles of keeping up with people who used to be friends at home. I could relate to the fact that Nigeria only becomes home when you are out of it. When I was in it, to me, it was a country. It became home because I always look forward to going back and as it is said, there is no place like home.
The best part of the book was the blog. The idea that a blog could be the product of regular events and thoughts that come naturally to one’s self fascinated me. She presented the blogging aspect of the book in that a person could remain anonymous in an obvious way. She showed the ideas and samples of blogging at ease. Ifemelu, the blogger in this novel wrote in an unapologetic way and as a female, in my perspective, she did not feel the need to explain herself in the demands about her outcome. Before reading this book, I had started a blog and in my attempt to make it perfect I felt the burden and need to satisfy the readers (which I hardly got then.) I forgot to satisfy and represent myself in the state of blogging. I did not think that my story and my version of event would matter to anyone else or contribute to the blog’s success. I had always considered myself, lifestyle and stories as boring but Americanah redefined the perspective I had of myself.
When I finished reading this book, I told a close friend that I would start my blog over again. I said that this time, it will be about that voice and thought in my head that I had always silenced due to its imperfectness. In line of what Adichie wrote in Americanah, I made the decision to satisfy and serve my honesty to myself. I did what I felt and what I wished. On my blog, as the biography and headline, I chose to say what I was rather than who I was and I was pleased with this decision. This one paged blog flourished beyond my control. I no longer had to find things to write. Things and words that needed to be written found their way to me. Just like how one of Ifemelu’s encounter on the train inspired a post on her blog, I too began to find the desire to write about ridiculous things that I encountered like when I got into trouble with a church member because I was catcalled (trust me, it is not what you think it is or what it sounds like.)
Until I read this book, I never trusted that I too was worth writing about. I love this book too much and I am glad that I read it. The ending of this novel hit me. Although I had always kept in mind that Adiche’s books are never complete, I realized that the finishing of her stories, whether spoken or written is beyond the book itself. The completion of her stories are embedded in the change and empowerment that it stirs in our lives.