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Americanah
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PAST Group Reads 2018 > Americanah- September- NO Spoilers

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message 1: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
I am planning to read this book soon. Would anyone like to join me?


Bonnie I have read it, but did plan to join the discussions when others have finished.


message 3: by J., Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

J. (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Bonnie wrote: "I have read it, but did plan to join the discussions when others have finished."

Same!


message 4: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Great. I'll read it right after Their Eyes were Watching God (which I LOVE so far).


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments I'm going to try and find it......but if my work library doesn't have it, then I may have difficulty finding it at the public library (though a friend has assured me it's worth the money, and got mad when Audible wouldn't allow her to "loan" me her copy, lol!)


message 6: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "I'm going to try and find it......but if my work library doesn't have it, then I may have difficulty finding it at the public library (though a friend has assured me it's worth the money, and got m..."

I don't think it will be hard to find. I saw a copy on my library's sale desk. (My library always sells donations, though sometimes it'd be smarter to add them to the collection.) The collection has a couple large prints, so I was lucky.

As far as I can see, the only way to share an audible book is to share your username and password with the person, so they have access to your library. I think I have audible on 3 different devices now.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments I just worry that this town being what it is, the library will have only one copy and it will be out. But I have to check work first.


Colleen  | 47 comments This book was really good and stuck with me long after I finished it. She's a great writer. I heard the audio is a good version as well. Looking forward to the discussion!


message 9: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Aug 27, 2018 11:14PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
I started it, and it drew me right in. I think I'm going to like it. I hope I can read it fast. I was on a wait list for Circe for months, and it just came in. I'll have 7 days.


message 10: by J., Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

J. (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
NancyJ wrote: "I started it, and it drew me right in. I think I'm going to like it. I hope I can read it fast. I was on a wait list for Circe for months, and it just came in. I'll have 7 days."

I know I wanted to read some of the characters blog posts! They sounded interesting.


message 11: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
This story feels so real to me. I'm wondering if it's based on her real life. I haven't read any of her other books.


message 12: by J., Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

J. (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
I know part of it is. I believe she came to the states as a college student.


message 13: by Judith (new) - added it

Judith | 8 comments I'm planning to join you. Just ordered the book online, so I hopefully have it by Monday.
Btw, Their Eyes Were Watching God is one of my all-time favorites ;)


Jen from Quebec :0) (muppetbaby99) | 23 comments I am *IN*! ---Jen from Quebec :0)


message 15: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Great. I think there is a lot here to discuss.


Charley Girl (charleygirl9) | 24 comments I got mine from the library so I'm ready to go! Their Eyes Were Watching God is a fabulous book!


message 17: by Marielle (new) - added it

Marielle Starting with Americanah as well, looking forward to the joined read!


message 18: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Judith wrote: "I'm planning to join you. Just ordered the book online, so I hopefully have it by Monday.
Btw, Their Eyes Were Watching God is one of my all-time favorites ;)"


Their Eyes has just become one of my favorites now too. Welcome to the group.


Jen from Quebec :0) (muppetbaby99) | 23 comments There *IS* an audiobook version of this on YOUTUBE if ppl are strapped for cash, as I am. It is a great narrator, but also has about 8 billion advertisements in the clip unless you've got an actual good PC ad blocker set up, unlike myself. But, I'd rather deal with it than not be able to read a book that I have been *wanting* to read for so so long, you know?
Anyways, just thought that I'd throw that out there. --Jen from Quebec :0)


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments I just got it yesterday from my library! And it's ours, so I don't have a deadline to return it until December!


message 21: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Sep 01, 2018 10:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Jen from Quebec :0) wrote: "There *IS* an audiobook version of this on YOUTUBE if ppl are strapped for cash, as I am. It is a great narrator, but also has about 8 billion advertisements in the clip unless you've got an actual..."

Your library doesn't have any copies? My library has a lot more copies than they did a few months back.

The audible version is pretty good. The narrator is a British actress and I like her voice. Some of her American accents are nasal and flat, and some of her African characters sound more Asian to me (because of the r's I guess.) Many of the voices do sound a lot like Nigerian students I had in the past.


message 22: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
FIRST IMPRESSIONS?

What do you think so far? Characters? Structure? Themes?

I like the structure so far. She moves around in time, but I never feel lost. Though I do wish I paid attention to dates, because I don't know for instance what year they were in high school, when she moved to America, etc. and what year she returns, etc,

She also alternates between a focus on Ifemelu and a focus on Obinze, and for the most part that's very effective. I care about both characters, and it seems likely that they are headed for some type of reconnection. He's married with kids, so it feels wrong to root for them to get together, but at this point I sort of do.

There are a lot of friends, relatives, coworkers, etc. mentioned and it's hard to keep all the names straight. When they come up again, the author sometimes gives enough information or context to remind us who they are.

It's interesting to see how Ifemelu's aunt and cousin Dike (pronounced DeeKay) change over time in the U.S.

Ifemelu's BLOG. What did you learn from this? This is one of my favorite things about the book so far.

HAIR. Is hair a theme in this book? It sure could be. I complain a lot about my hair, but I'll try to put it in perspective. I could not sit for 6 hours in a salon while someone pulled, and tightly braided my hair into small rows.

I've been told that black women spend more time obsessing over their hair, while white women spend more time obsessing over their Weight. I don't know if I agree because thinning hair is more upsetting to me than my ever expanding middle and backside.


message 23: by Parker (new)

Parker | 204 comments NancyJ, I'll answe your comment about Black hair (even though I'm White). Hair is a Thing with Black women, mostly because of the way it grows and its texture. Relaxing it (as many have done in the past) basically destroys it (much like White women who get perms too often, use curling irons and blow dryers constantly). Black hair (so I've been told by Black women) naturally locs (forms clumps) as it grows long. Braiding protects it. There are even rules about a Black woman's hair.
Rule 1. NEVER touch it.
Rule 2. If in doubt, see rule 1.

I think White women *do* spend a lot of time obsessing over weight, thanks to ads (both print and TV), especially when we're young. As we get older and more comfortable with who we are, that fades a bit.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments Parker wrote: "NancyJ, I'll answe your comment about Black hair (even though I'm White). Hair is a Thing with Black women, mostly because of the way it grows and its texture. Relaxing it (as many have done in the..."

Also, and this is generalization, many countries in Africa are transitioning from being agriculturally-based economies. In such countries, a little extra weight is a good thing, because it means that you will be able to survive hard times. In some Latin American countries, it's the same. In fact, someone taking home a skinny woman would be met by their mother saying "Who dares to bring Death to my doorstep!?" It used to be that way here, too, a hundred years ago or so.
I had a colleague from Nigeria, who used to laugh with me about our psychological shifts when traveling (my ex is from the Caribbean). Here at home, no one ever honks, whistles, cat calls me, etc. because I"m overweight. I'm in the group of "undesirables". So when I went there, it took a day or so for my brain to shift and realize that those honks, whistles, etc. were for me. I'm realizing as I type this that there's probably been another shift, as I'm older now, and it might be considered disrespectful to do that to someone my age, but the flirting, etc. still happens. She said she always missed it, too, and went through the same thing when she went home. Then, you return to the US, feeling like a "mami", and after a few days, you shift back into "Who do I think I am!? No one's honking at me!?"


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments Parker wrote: "NancyJ, I'll answe your comment about Black hair (even though I'm White). Hair is a Thing with Black women, mostly because of the way it grows and its texture. Relaxing it (as many have done in the..."

Chris Rock did a movie about "good hair" (refers to the grade of hair a person has)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qzd0Q...


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments NancyJ wrote: "FIRST IMPRESSIONS?

What do you think so far? Characters? Structure? Themes?

I like the structure so far. She moves around in time, but I never feel lost. Though I do wish I paid attention to dat..."


Also, hair is probably going to come up more in the book....not that it has to be a theme, but as you can see, it's time consuming to have it taken up/down. Whereas in other countries, it can be done more quickly, if you have two people working on you at the same time, it takes longer here, if there's only one person, and you want the teeny tiny braids. And much more expensive, too. People living in bigger cities will have access to cheaper places, because of the amount of immigrants working in salons, but unless there's more than one person working on it, it is still a huge time investment.


message 27: by Parker (new)

Parker | 204 comments I'd forgotten about that movie, Linda. It's a good one, and according to some of my friends, totally accurate.

There are a couple of books about Black hair. The first is You can't Touch My Hair:And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams. I've read this, and give it 5 stars. The second I haven't read, but put it on my (ever growing) TBR list. Don't Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri.


message 28: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Sep 03, 2018 02:28PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Parker wrote: "NancyJ, I'll answe your comment about Black hair (even though I'm White). Hair is a Thing with Black women, mostly because of the way it grows and its texture. Relaxing it (as many have done in the..."

Great comments. I think my mom must have some African ancestors, because her hair has that texture in the back. I inherited my dad's hair which is at the other end of the spectrum, fine and thin (and getting thinner). I subjected it to perms, color, blow dryers, hot rollers, and lots of different products over the years. I had to spend a lot of time to get it to do anything. It's healthy now, but getting thinner as I get older. Losing my hair is a lot more upsetting than weight gain and wrinkles.

I saw pictures of the author online and she's had a lot of different hairstyles. Some were like works of art - complex, elaborate, architecturally interesting, lustrous. I remember last year I kept running into a woman in the elevator with golden strands woven in her braids, and it was very pleasing to look at. I hope I didn't come across like one of the women Ifemelu complained about that used
words like "beautiful" in a false way.

In Their Eyes were Watching God, Janie's long smooth hair was a major asset, and a source of admiration, envy and even power.
Similarly, Ifemelu's mother had glorious long hair, and it was a shock to the family when she cut it all off.

Mental health issues in the book:

Ifemelu's mother was constantly searching for the right church/religion. Her family seemed to view these changes and attitudes as a form of mental illness. Do you think this was a reasonable explanation? Religious comments by other characters seemed to be made superficially, or maybe it was just the way those characters were voiced in the audio.

Ifemelu seems to be suffering from depression while in America, but she rejects the label as an American thing.


message 29: by Linda Abhors the New GR Design (last edited Sep 03, 2018 03:22PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments Whoopi Goldberg had a part of a routine, where she said when she was young, she would put a large white towel on her head and let it sweep back and forth, pretending she had "long, luxurious, blond hair". And I remember watching it as an adult and thinking, "Yes! All except the blond part!" Because I'd grown up with a standard of beauty that was Cher's "long luxurious hair, and it honestly took me until a few years ago to accept that no matter what I do to it chemically, my hair will never move like that. Like your mom's, mine is especially fuzzy/crispy /naturally spiraled right in the back, while underneath, it is softer, silkier, wavy hair.


message 30: by Judith (new) - added it

Judith | 8 comments Parker wrote: "NancyJ, I'll answe your comment about Black hair (even though I'm White). Hair is a Thing with Black women, mostly because of the way it grows and its texture. Relaxing it (as many have done in the..."

Yes! Hair is important. I believe it stands for the bigger struggle of black women to fit into white beauty standards.
I'm not black either, but I have many (black) friends who feel this way. It is really hard to feel pretty with your natural hair and skin if all around you a different image is advertised. I'm from Germany, and here you don't find any products for black people in the stores.

Also, fun fact: I lived and taught at a school in Kenya for a couple of months. One time I went to a hair dresser to get my hair braided (like the white girl that comes in while Ifem is getting her hair done). It worked fairly well with my hair because it is curly, but it hurt terribly and it didn't last long... but it was worth the try :)


message 31: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy I've finally cleared my reading decks and am beginning this book. I previewed the GR reviews and was interested to see the sharp division of ratings: people seem to either love it or hate it. I take this as a sign that it's going to be an interesting read. Now, some two chapters in, I suspect I'll be on the "love it" side.


message 32: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Judith wrote: "Parker wrote: "NancyJ, I'll answe your comment about Black hair (even though I'm White). Hair is a Thing with Black women, mostly because of the way it grows and its texture. Relaxing it (as many h..."

I saw a blond woman in St Lucia getting braided, and I was seriously considering it. But she had so much scalp showing, I knew it would be the same for me, and I didn't want to get sunburned on my scalp. I'd hate to go to all that trouble, and then have to wear a hat over it.


message 33: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Judy wrote: "I've finally cleared my reading decks and am beginning this book. I previewed the GR reviews and was interested to see the sharp division of ratings: people seem to either love it or hate it. I tak..."

Great. I hope you love it! I thought her blogs were really interesting. Her experiences as an immigrant student in the US were particularly interesting to me. I taught at a large university and a smaller college. The small school didn't have any real services for international students. Even worse, they didn't require international students to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). As a result, they accepted many students who couldn't even understand what their professors were saying. It was very frustrating, and I think it was unethical to take money from students who had little chance of success. I sent students over to the large university to take ESL classes and to meet people who could help them.


message 34: by J., Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

J. (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Moving this to the past reads folder, but the thread will remain open for discussion.


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