Growing up in Nigeria, Ifemelu and Obinze always dreamed of being able to leave for America. When Ifemelu gets a chance to go to a university in Pennsylvania, they promise that they will meet again soon, once Obinze is ready to apply for graduate school. But America is not the perfect place Ifemelu had imagined, and she struggles to find a job and a place in her new country. When she starts to lose hope for her future and becomes desperate for money, she cuts Obinze off. His letters, emails and calls go unanswered, until eventually they stop. Fifteen years later, Ifemelu has become a blogger on race and is dating an American Ivy League professor. Obinze is back in Nigeria after a short time in Britain, and he has become a millionaire who works in real estate, with a wife and young daughter. Both have become successful in their own ways, but neither are happy. When Ifemelu decides to move back to Nigeria, she finds her new home changed and her relationship with Obinze uncertain.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, herself a Nigerian immigrant to the United States, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Americanah. The novel, Adichie's third, holds no bars in its honest analysis of race and immigration in this country. No one -- individuals, nations, cultures -- is safe from her brutally truthful gaze. The book's characters are the most compelling part of this story. Their lives, the mistakes they make and the regrets they harbor, feel so real that it's difficult to leave them as their story comes to an end.
Reviewed by bp, 05/14. Other reviews by bp.