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Oh this book. I have been mourning for two days that it is finished and I want more, more, More, MORE!!!
A brilliant, modern piece of literature that talks about a world I understand in a way that I understand too. Okay, I am not black and I am not African born… but through my own experiences I know exactly what Chimamanda Adichie is getting at with this novel.
I have a long-lost South African Zulu whom I loved from afar for years after our first and only encounter and we still write to each other wondering why we are not together whilst knowing exactly why. He IS an Americanah, now a European AB (African Black). He never made it to Australia.
I know the girls with their mobile phones, their hair and their modern, new-money boyfriends who keep wives and children at home in mansions and good schools. It is not classically Nigerian. Move three countries west and you’ll find Ghana in similar circumstance. I met all those women upon my move to Accra and my job at the top International School for Ghanaian nationals and the few wealthy Indians and westerners who found themselves working in the same suburb and a city full of traffic it was too difficult to get to the other side of town for the American and British schools before arriving at work on-time. That would mean a 4am start to the day for their 6 – 12 year olds as opposed to a 6am start. I taught the President’s granddaughter and dined for free in his eldest son’s restaurant. I taught the Chief of the Ewe’s daughter and deflected his advances, asking for my phone number, by telling him he should get it from his wife. I did not meet all those men and women in Bolga. In Bolga those people are few, in Accra they are a dime a dozen.
I have considered what to do with my daughter’s hair throughout her short life and Chimamanda Adichie has given me great clues. I have to mark that page in the book. Natural is best and I always and only comb her hair wet, at least I have been doing that right.
I felt the love story in this book. When Ifemelu returns to Nigeria I read on fervently hoping that what I wanted to happen would happen. Would Adichie give me what I wanted in her carefully chosen words? Would she rip it from under me to prove life is harsh and we will always be separated from the things we want most because of our mistakes when younger? What would she do? There were no clues. I had no idea until I read the last sentence and turned the page suddenly realising that the book was finished.
I am not going to tell you whether I was satisfied in the end or not. Suffice to say that my favourite author never disappoints no matter what ending I get.