Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie features one of the most interesting heroines I’ve read in a while. Efemelu grew up in Lagos but left to attend college in America when the military dictatorship gripping Nigeria began interfering with her education. The book starts with Efemelu preparing to move back to her native country after twelve years away, looking back on her first love, Obinze, who is now married and has a baby daughter. The storytelling is so rich, I loved how it started with Efemelu’s present situation and then worked into her past for a few hundred pages filling in the gaps on what had led her to the precipice of heading back home. Efemelu has carved out a great life for herself in the United States but the pull of home and memories of Obinze are stronger than being comfortable in the status quo.
One of the most interesting/devastating components of the book was Efemelu dealing with the realities of racism for the first time. Throughout the book there are entries from Efem’s blog addressing race intertwined with the narrative, a device that sometimes felt on the clumsy side but the blog content was so compelling there wasn’t a chance to dwell on the execution.