by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Sweeping love story meets meditation on race relations: this is Adichie at her best.
Ifemelu grows up in Nigeria and in high school, meets Obinze, the love of her life. Sounds cliché, but Adichie’s writing makes it so real, so heartfelt, that even the most jaded readers will want this love to flourish.
But, as often happens after a high school romance, things change. In a country where children are primed to move abroad when they reach adulthood, Ifemelu moves to the United States. It is there that she discovers the concept of race. In Nigeria, race is not something she ever thinks about. In the U.S., her life is defined by race. She must learn her place in a complicated racial hierarchy and discovers that she is on the bottom. As she struggles to find work, Ifemelu begins to blog about her experiences.
Race is a central concept in the book as Adichie touches on everything from the acceptability of wearing your hair in braids, to the racial divide between light-skinned and dark-skinned blacks.
Her life evolves in the U.S., and Ifemelu begins to thrive. But something is pulling her back to Nigeria. Which brings us back to Obinze. Now married with a child, Obinze and Ifemelu find each other again. Will their love return after all these years? What follows may bring some readers to tears.