Publisher: Vintage Canada
Source: Personal Copy
This is not an official review but a discussion post because I couldn’t finish this book. I read about 60%. It started off strong and I was loving it, then it started to go downhill and I couldn’t believe how irritated I became. Ifemelu is a Nigerian immigrant who moves to the US to finish her schooling. Political problems and student protests keep her from going to school in Nigeria and her boyfriend Obinze who is obsessed with America is forced to stay behind. This book is suppose to be about star-crossed lovers, except I didn’t think it really was. It’s in the book, but didn’t seem like a focal point to me. I felt like this book really was about race, nationality and stereotypes.
I really didn’t like any of the characters. They made their own decisions, and faced with the consequences, they never owned up to their mistakes. I didn’t feel sympathetic to them, I felt annoyed and irritated. Ifemelu was so focused on race, and racial inequalities, that she was never able to acknowledge any positive things in her life. It’s like she kept looking for unjustices. The hair salon storyline had me rolling my eyes with all the stereotypical characters that came in. It felt really forced to me. It became too much.
I read an interview with Adichie, and she mentioned that this book is supposed to be funny…I did not find it funny. I think I really missed something. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, maybe I should give it another chance when I’m ready. I don’t know. I feel like the only person who didn’t like this book.
When Ifemelu comes to American and her Aunty Uju hands her another black girls ID because American people apparently can’t tell black people apart, I kept reading but when Obinze does the same thing in the UK, I was frustrated. When Aunty Uju kept speaking about “These People” with a negative sentence attached, I kept getting annoyed. It seemed to like this kept happening over and over again. I couldn't move on from it. Obinze has a fake marriage, because he wants to cheat the system to immigrate. Why does everyone have to try cheat the system? It just seemed like the book was about race, nationality, and people who are ignorant, biased and unfortunate.
I will say I read and loved Purple Hibiscus by Adichie, and I will definitely try Half a Yellow Sun. She is a talented writer, but this book just bothered me so much. I live in a multicultural city, a I found this book to be too generalized.
Please let me know your thoughts!