I’m reading this book and I have to be honest here: I’m loving it and maybe it’s a kind of understatement but it’s just to give a bit of idea about how I feel. I really feel deeply connected and it’s weird because these feelings I have use to come alive with the books of Nicholas Sparks. Now, if you really know me you might know the kind of emotions I’m trying to put down here but the point is this: I feel connected. I FEEL.
I feel like this book is talking to me or rather, it’s telling my own story, revealing and telling me with unconfutable insistence the things about me I thought I was the only one to know. I have to say that at some point I was actually “scared” and I find myself to think “this book is creepy”… not because it’s creepy, but because it seems to me a sort of transcript of things I’ve been thinking about and emotions I’ve been feeling and situations I’ve been living. I FEEL.
Now, you will understand why I strongly believe (and recommend) that every person should read this book, especially black women and I’m not saying that because I’m a black woman myself; it’s not about exclusivity, it’s not because the writer is a black woman.
Despite the simple, accessible but nevertheless rich language in which this book is written, I really think every black woman should read this book because it talks about things that matter. It talks about hair, about politics, about color blindness, about the uncomfortable things of what appears to be a wealthy nation; this book analyses the Nigerian society, its good and unsaid and unseen parts, but especially its talks about women, seen by men in a non-physical way. Eloquent example of the latter is this character called Kosi, wife of the main male character Obinze. This woman is described as a person who “[…] chose peace over truth, [who] was always eager to conform,”who becomes in the book (at least in the first part) the symbol of the modern Nigerian wealthy woman. In essence Kosi is the figure through which the writer conveys the fragile African woman, who suffers for not being able to voice her inner person, who believes (or made to believe by her insecurity, created by the lack of a deeper knowledge of herself) that conformity is the only way out.
Another major issue that the writer touches is the emotional expression of oneself, whether negative or positive.
I come from an African family and although I grew up in a European country, I always had in my household a perpetual presence of the African tradition. Many at times I found (and perhaps I still find) myself to believe that African culture does not entertain the expression of emotions, and Americanah was revealing and eloquent regarding this aspect. In the final lines of chapter 15 there’s a conversation between the main female character and a friend of hers about depression and I think the outcome of this chat is rather interesting, it suggest itself to be worthy of a note of reflection about how feelings are regarded: Ginika said, “I think you are suffering from depression.” Ifemelu shook her head and turned to the window. Depression was what happens to Americans, with their self-absolving need to turn everything into an illness. She was not suffering from depression. […] Years later she would blog about this […]. A Congolese woman wrote a long comment in response: She had moved to Virginia from Kinshasa and, months into her first semester of college, begun to feel dizzy in the morning […]. She went to see the doctor [and] even though she checked “yes” to all the symptoms on the card the doctor gave her , she refused to accept the diagnosis of panic attacks because panic attacks happened only to Americans. Nobody in Kinshasa had panic attacks. It was not even that it was called by another name, it was simply not called at all. Did things begin to exist only when they were named?