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Americanah
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PAST Group Reads 2018 > Americanah- September- SPOILER THREAD

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

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
You can discuss anything about the book here, including characters, writing, details of events, your opinions, interpretations, and the ending.

Just to be safe (people do peek or post their thoughts before they finish), if you're one of the first posters, but any big spoilers under a spoiler cover. See "(some html is OK)" for instructions.


Charley Girl (charleygirl9) | 24 comments (view spoiler)


message 3: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Sep 03, 2018 01:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Charley Girl wrote: "I'm listening to this book and I like it so far. Talking to her boyfriend's mother about sex was funny to me but then I thought it was very honest and frank of the mother to do it.

Kimberly is nic..."


I loved the relationship his mother had with Ifemelu. I hope to have that kind of relationship with a daughter-in-law some day.
I liked that frankness about sex too. It was important to me to talk to my kids about condoms and respect (and sex with a drunk girl =rape if she can't consent).

Yes, Kimberly seemed to be cowed by her sister and husband. It makes me think she married before she had developed a sense of her own identity, purpose, opinions, etc. Ifemula seemed to dislike Kimberly's husband immediately, because of the way he made eye contact, and because he seemed ready to seduce her. There were a lot of men in the book that she saw as a "big man" type - rich, dominant, flirtatious, cheaters. Like Aunty Uzu's general.


message 4: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Sep 03, 2018 02:36PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
I started this topic in the other thread, but I want to discuss Dike's issues near the end of the book.

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. Aunty Uzu also seemed to be suffering from stress, overwork, uncertainty in America. She seemed to get much better later on, and Dike seemed to be confident and popular in school, so I wonder what got him down. I know with clinical depression, it can occur for no apparent reason. It's a medical illness, not necessarily caused by negative situations or trauma. What do you think was going on with Dike?


message 5: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
NancyJ wrote: "I started this topic in the other thread, but I want to discuss Dike's issues near the end of the book.

Mental health issues in the book:

Ifemelu's mother was constantly searching for the right c..."


I think it probably had to do with a feeling of not fitting into any specific culture. I know several people who have grown up abroad who are technically American, but they never felt like they truly fit into the culture they were immersed in and have a hard time relating to American culture when they return. In the book it sounds like he struggled with being caught between two worlds and not feeling like he belonged to either.


Charley Girl (charleygirl9) | 24 comments I'm struggling to get through it. I enjoyed the beginning and was excited to listen, but it is going on too long. Same things are happening.


message 7: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) Charley Girl wrote: "I'm struggling to get through it. I enjoyed the beginning and was excited to listen, but it is going on too long. Same things are happening."

I read this a couple of years ago (I think) it was the same for me - beginning brilliant, and then, ye ah, you said it, it seemed just very long to me.

I thought the plot was retreading Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun, both books I loved - but this one I struggled with, I did finish it but just did not enjoy it as much as the other two.


Jen from Quebec :0) (muppetbaby99) | 23 comments I am glad that I have the Kindle version along with the audio, mostly due to the NAMES - I cannot imagine 'reading' it by Audible audio only, as seeing the names in print/spelling help me to keep each character straight in my mind, you know?

I am enjoying it, I am 40% in or so, but I am now anxious for the plot to return to the 'present day' plot that started the book....----Jen from Quebec :0)


message 9: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Inkspill

I haven't read any of her other books, but the descriptions sound so different, How are they similar?


message 10: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Jen from Quebec :0) wrote: "I am glad that I have the Kindle version along with the audio, mostly due to the NAMES - I cannot imagine 'reading' it by Audible audio only, as seeing the names in print/spelling help me to keep e..."

Yes, I often do the same thing, and it's very helpful with unfamiliar names or words. The voice inflections sometimes convey a slightly different emotion or humor that I might have missed with just reading. I sometimes overlap a few pages, and I notice that I pick up different things when listening vs reading.


Charley Girl (charleygirl9) | 24 comments Inkspill wrote: "Charley Girl wrote: "I'm struggling to get through it. I enjoyed the beginning and was excited to listen, but it is going on too long. Same things are happening."

I read this a couple of years ago..."


Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one. I finished it and happy when I did. I put the others on my to read shelf. Thanks for the comment.


message 12: by Judith (new) - added it

Judith | 8 comments I'm about half way through and I enjoyed it very much so far :)

One of the things I love about Americanah is its universal appeal. I can relate to so many of the things they talk about even though they seem to be very specific at first glance: Black Africans living abroad struggling with joblessness, immigration, homesickness... But the authors observations are so sharp and to the point that I immediately know what she is talking about when she describes Ifem's first impressions of America or Obinze's visiting his friend's British upper class dinner party.
I think it is kind of funny that she presents many of those observations as though they were uniquely "black", I think we can all relate to some of the difficulties the characters are dealing with. For example, I can relate to Ifem's feeling of coming to the US as an international student and wondering about some of the American peculiarities as I came to the US for the first time as an international student. I smiled a lot when I read those chapters because it was as if someone had copied those passages from my diary :)

Does anyone feel the same way?


Charley Girl (charleygirl9) | 24 comments Judith wrote: "I'm about half way through and I enjoyed it very much so far :)

One of the things I love about Americanah is its universal appeal. I can relate to so many of the things they talk about even thoug..."


Yes! Though it is from a Nigerian prospective I can see why moving to a new country would produce very similar reactions and observations.


message 14: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (last edited Sep 15, 2018 06:55AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Have a couple people finished this?

I'm interested in heareing everyone's thoughts on how it ended. It didn't feel like there was any resolution to the story, but also, I don't know if I prefer it that way.


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

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Judith wrote: "I'm about half way through and I enjoyed it very much so far :)

One of the things I love about Americanah is its universal appeal. I can relate to so many of the things they talk about even thoug..."


Yes Judith, I felt the same way. I identified with Ifem in many ways even though our lives on the surface are so different. I could relate to her intense high school relationship, her views of her mother, and the feelings of homesickness when away at school. It also made me think about all the international students I studied with many years ago. As an American female, I was a distinct minority in my grad program. We had people from all over the world. One of my best memories was a pot luck party where people brought food from their culture. Oh, and going to the Fourth of July fireworks together, with my kids playing with kids from China and South Korea. A Chinese dad said he didn't think they could go home again. His son was so Americanized he was concerned he wouldn't fit in (he was more assertive than any of the other kids, and as energetic as my ADHD kid).


message 16: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
J. wrote: "Have a couple people finished this?

I'm interested in hearing everyone's thoughts on how it ended. It didn't feel like there was any resolution to the story, but also, I don't know if I prefer it..."


I know! It used to bother me, but I've come to appreciate an open ended ending. The people who need a romantic "happily ever after" ending could imagine it. The people who are more cynical or just "experienced", might foresee some of the problems and challenges they'll have. When I was young, I remember reading a romance that did not have a happy ending, and I was mad that I read the whole book and didn't get the HEA payoff. I can't remember the book (it might have been a Hemingway book).

Same with movies. I saw a lot of old movies when I was young and I missed the signs that a whole lot was going on that we didn't see on film (due to the Hayes Code censors). I was confused in one film when a girl got pregnant because they didn't even show the couple kiss.

Now I see time and relationships differently. A wedding is really a beginning, not an ending. (Which is one reason I like Outlander so much.)


Jen from Quebec :0) (muppetbaby99) | 23 comments argh! I am only 50% through the book, and don't think that I will get it done before the end of September--- got distracted by the arrival of the Bob Woodward book about Trump ( Fear: Trump in the White House Fear Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward ) So a lot of my group reads were puts aside....I DID finish the AMaZING 'LONESOME DOVE' for the GAR group read, though.

I wish that this book's thread continued into the month of October...I will pop back here when finished though, to post my final thoughts, even if I am all by my lonesome! --Jen from Quebec :0)


message 18: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Jen from Quebec :0) wrote: "argh! I am only 50% through the book, and don't think that I will get it done before the end of September--- got distracted by the arrival of the Bob Woodward book about Trump ( [book:Fear: Trump i..."

The thread won't go away! It'll just be in the past reads folder and still open for discussion.


message 19: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Jen from Quebec :0) wrote: "argh! I am only 50% through the book, and don't think that I will get it done before the end of September--- got distracted by the arrival of the Bob Woodward book about Trump ( [book:Fear: Trump i..."

I think there are two other people still reading Lonesome Dove, so jump it!

FEAR - You might want to read it in small does. I've heard it induces laughter, rage, Social media rants, and in extreme cases, family fights, vomiting, and a sudden desire to learn more about Canada.

Let us know what you think!


message 20: by Pam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) I read the book earlier in the summer. The one comment that really stuck with me is that she wasn’t Black until she came to the U.S.

I also just started reading Bob Woodward’s Fear. I’m not sure if I want to relive that election! It’s bringing back lots of memories.


message 21: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Pam wrote: "I read the book earlier in the summer. The one comment that really stuck with me is that she wasn’t Black until she came to the U.S.

I also just started reading Bob Woodward’s Fear. I’m not sure i..."


Re Americanah. It got me thinking about some of those charter schools that have all black students. How nice would it be for a kid to have one less thing to worry about at school, and not be a minority in the classroom. I know that women in all girls schools and colleges develop greater leadership skills than in co-ed schools. They don't have to worry about the boys dominating discussions, and they're free from thinking about how the boys view them. I remember seeing a charter school on TV where the kids were confident, poised, enthusiastic about learning, and had strong career goals.

Re Fear. I'm afraid those memories never really left me, and the reality is worse than I feared. I was so terribly disappointed, because I knew that a big chunk of the votes for Trump were because people just can't get past their bias against women in leadership roles. For every bad thing anyone said about Hillary, there was factual evidence of something similar but even worse about Trump.

The fear is escalating too. Just as I stopped worrying about a bomb from North Korea (my nephew is a marine who was there when tensions were the worst), Trump starts poking a stick at Iran.

He doesn't know enough about economics and history to know that tariffs always lead to changes (or chaos) to domestic markets, as well as political tensions. There are always unintended consequences and backlash in some form. Why does he want to alienate the whole rest of the world but kiss up to Russia?

Sorry to get so political. Gender and race issues are always important to me, and they are wrapped up tightly with politics right now.


message 22: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

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


message 23: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy J. wrote: "Have a couple people finished this?

I'm interested in heareing everyone's thoughts on how it ended. It didn't feel like there was any resolution to the story, but also, I don't know if I prefer it..."


For me, I think it reached an emotional resolution: the big question was, will Ifemelu and Obinze get back together? And at the end the answer was yes, they will. What was not answered was how it will work out, but that's less interesting, don't you think?


message 24: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy The Hair thing. Getting back the the topic raised in the No Spoilers thread about hair treatments, this was also a theme in the nonfiction book This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America. I recommend it for the viewpoint of an American Black, to balance Ifemelu's viewpoint of the Non American Black.


Linda  | 915 comments OK, as I knew would happen, what with the beginning of classes and the f2f club book being doubly long and ultra-boring.....I am late to the discussion.
I've read about half of it so far. Took me a moment to get into it, but am now at the point where she's starting university. I'm chuckling over the "orientation" for new students at the ASA, where they talk about the population of the BSU and the African Students Association, and the crossover between the two.
I'm also laughing at myself a bit when she talks about how, when you say "Sorry", Americans say, "Oh, but it's not your fault!" I was that person with a Nigerian colleague that I had. "Sorry" is their way of saying, "Oh, that's too bad." and yes, they say it a lot. And I was always one of those people saying, "Oh, it's not your fault!".
Am flashing back to my own poor grad school days, when going out for a meal was a big production, not an everyday occurrence. Even McDonald's wasn't an option in those days (this was pre Value Menu days). In that sense, I think that there might be a conflation of America with "wealthy". And yes, our standard of living is higher than that of many tiny villages in other countries, in that we have (usually) clean drinking water, we're not cooking over a fire, etc. But I often find with friends in Latin America that there's an assumption that we all have huge yards with a gardener, two or three cars, and a swimming pool. And we don't.


message 26: by Parker (new)

Parker | 204 comments Linda, I found your comment on 'Sorry' quite interesting, as I say that to my husband all the time. His answer used to be 'It's not your fault' until I explained to him that I was sympathising with him. He now lets it slide. And, no, I'm not Nigerian. Perhaps it's a British Isles thing? I know I have internalised A LOT from being an Anglophile.


Linda  | 915 comments Parker wrote: "Linda, I found your comment on 'Sorry' quite interesting, as I say that to my husband all the time. His answer used to be 'It's not your fault' until I explained to him that I was sympathising with..."

I'll say you have, lol! ("internalised..." :))
Could be, though the Brits tend to use it more to say "Excuse me/Could you repeat that?" and sometimes when they feel they might be interrupting, or instead of "pardon me". I've never heard it in that sense of "oh, that's too bad" from a Brit, unless they come all the way out with "Sorry to hear that, ___".

I think that I used to use it too much when I was younger....combo of Midwestern upbringing/politeness and the fact that I was way too nice/concerned about others. I don't use it half as much as I used to.


message 28: by Parker (new)

Parker | 204 comments Linda wrote, '...don't use it half as much as I used to.' I've noticed that husband is the only one I use it with. Hmmm....
I've used it sarcastically with a couple of supervisors, in the sense of Sorry....NOT! when they tried to screw me over.


Linda  | 915 comments Parker wrote: "Linda wrote, '...don't use it half as much as I used to.' I've noticed that husband is the only one I use it with. Hmmm....
I've used it sarcastically with a couple of supervisors, in the sense of ..."


Haha, I've learned to use it that way at work, too!
Is your husband British?


message 30: by Parker (new)

Parker | 204 comments No, he's American. From Indiana originally.


Linda  | 915 comments Parker wrote: "No, he's American. From Indiana originally."

Ah, I'm from next door. SW MI


message 32: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "OK, as I knew would happen, what with the beginning of classes and the f2f club book being doubly long and ultra-boring.....I am late to the discussion.
I've read about half of it so far. Took me a..."


I definitely agree that in some places there is a conflated idea of American wealth. Granted if you consumed American media outside of the US, it would be easy to do without first-hand knowledge.


Linda  | 915 comments So, as I near the end...........wow, the way she describes certain characters is amazing, it makes you feel as if you're in the room with them. You can feel the charisma of Blaine's sister Shan, and the self-hate for joining the group of acolytes even while you recognize how cruel she is. Shan is always "on", and it reaches a point where you're not certain if it's just charisma, or if this is someone who is constantly performing........I mean, if you've just left yoga class, haven't you had enough stretching? Do you need to keep contorting your body, or could you just drop it for five minutes, to try and get to know your brother's girlfriend, be present for other people? Not a fan of that character, honestly, no matter how smart she may be.


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