Growing Up In A New World - A Review of "Americanah"


Book Review of Americanah

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I'm afraid I might be saying "this book is a must-read" a little too often. How many books can be must-reads, right? But I'm going to argue that I say that because I'm sharing many of my favorite books first. I'll share ones I like less later, and maybe even some I hate (I'm looking at you The Catcher in the Rye), but now I'm excited so I'm sharing the ones I love. It's easiest to share your favorites anyways, right?

All that to say, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah needs to go on your must-read list.

First of all, I have a huge feminist crush Chimamanda. (Is a feminist crush a thing? What is it? I don't really know, but it seemed to sum up my feelings anyways.) Just listen to her powerful TEDtalk about the importance of telling and hearing diverse stories, and you'll see what I mean. This isn't really important to my review since I didn't look her up until after reading this book, but I just thought I'd let you know.

Americanah is the story of a girl who grew up in Nigeria, but leaves as a teenager to study in the US. It's the story of leaving people behind, learning new ways of living, and surviving and even thriving in a new country. Some blurbs sell it as a love story, and there is love in it, but I think it's more a story about finding one's self.

This novel touches on a lot of themes - coming of age, romance, immigration, homesickness, family ties and even race in America. But hold on before that uncomfortable subject of race makes you turn away! Americanah has the advantage of approaching the subject from an outside observer's viewpoint. It's not as emotional as some books I've read, and although I appreciate the emotional ones sometimes it's much easier to wrap your brain around something when emotion is a little bit distant. So if you've been wondering what's going on with race in America, this is a great place to start. (Same with immigration!)

That being said, this story is not about race, it's about a young woman's life. It's about growing and changing and making friends and loosing friends and living with your heart on two different sides of an ocean. It's beautifully written, in my opinion, and the writing carries you along effortlessly.

This book doesn't have a wonderfully satisfying, glossy ending. It's a little bit messy. But I think it makes the story feel more real. The main character isn't a perfect heroine, but I like her better for it. She's selfish, she makes mistakes, she feels like a person you could actually know. I think that's part of the reason her story really sticks with you.

I don't think my illustration for this one requires much explaining, so I'll let the image speak for itself!

Black hand holding statue of liberty torch for refugees

Ok, if you skipped all that up there, here's the short version to sum it up:

Title: Americanah

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Genre: Contemporary fiction

Reminds me of: Before We Visit the GoddessHomegoing

Length: 477 pages

Age: Adult. Some life experience is necessary to really appreciate this story.

Should you read it?: Yes!

If you're interested in a print, you can find one in the shop by clicking here! If you think you'd like to read Americanah, look for it at your local library or find it on Amazon by clicking below. 

2 comments

  • Ruth Meharg

    I hope you love it Addie! I understand some of the critiques I’ve read, but it didn’t bother me while reading it, I just got caught up in her story.

  • Addie

    Ive been thinking about reading this one for awhile but afraid it would rub me the wrong way… but since we have such similar tastes in books (ugh, also did not like Catcher in the Rye!), then I feel like if you liked it, then it will be good for me to read…. thanks for all the recommendations!

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