Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Ifemelu and Obinze met as teenagers. When they met they trusted each other suddenly and completely and immediately had an intimacy between them. He made her like herself. It was almost like love at first sight and they were together up until Ifemelu moves to America to attend college.
Ifemelu really struggles when she moves to America. She can’t find a job, she doesn’t fit in, and she misses Obinze. Then something happens to her and she cuts off contact with Obinze. He is completely confused about why she has stopped contacting him. “He missed her, a longing that tore deep into him. He resented her. He wondered endlessly what might have happened. He changed, curled more inwardly into himself. He was, by turns, inflamed by anger, twisted by confusion, withered by sadness.”
Ifemelu soon finds out, “You are in a country that is not your own. You do what you have to do if you want to succeed.” “I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America.” “How many other people had become black in America? How many had felt as though their world was wrapped in gauze?” She begins a blog about race that is a huge part of the novel and it becomes successful.
She has two serious relationships in America and then she finds that her heart just isn’t in it anymore. “She did not know what it was but there was something wrong with her. A hunger, a restlessness. An incomplete knowledge of herself. The sense of something farther away, beyond her reach.” “There was cement in her soul. It had been there for a while, an early morning disease of fatigue, a bleakness and borderlessness. It brought with it amorphous longings, shapeless desires, brief imaginary glints of other lives she could be living, that over the months melded into a piercing homesickness.”
Meanwhile Obinze is feeling the same way. “He had begun, in the past few months, to feel bloated from all he had acquired and would, from time to time be overcome by the urge to prick everything with a pin, to deflate it all, to be free. He no longer felt sure, he had in fact never been sure whether he liked his life because he really did or whether he liked it because he was supposed to.” “His mind had not changed at the same pace of his life, and felt a hollow space between himself and the person he used to be.”
So Ifemelu follows her heart and moves back to Nigeria and she and Obinze find each other again. Will their love be enough? Will he be able to leave his wife to be with her again? I desperately wanted a happy ending for these two and I won’t say whether they got one or not because I don’t want to spoil it for you. I found this book to be boring and tedious at times and the race subject was a little overkill. However, I kept reading because I was very invested in the love story between Ifemelu and Obinze. Adichie is a very talented and amazing writer and I will continue to read anything she writes