So I finished Americanah. I’ve been talking about this book a lot on here, and overall, I really enjoyed it. Some of my posts have criticized certain characters, but I think dislikable characters are a testament to a good author. Adichie was able to write very realistic people, to the point where their actions would frustrate me and I’d have to put the book down for a while. Her frank, modern, colloquial voice was a breath of fresh air and made the book a fun read. I honestly enjoyed the unconventional narrative- the perspective switches and jumps in time kept the book interesting. But the end. Arguably, the most important part of any story; the final idea that the reader is left with. I’m not entirely sure what I think of this conclusion, so I’m going to be a bad writer and not make an opinion. Let’s keep it simple and go for Pros/Cons List:
***There will, obviously, be spoilers below!***
Cons of Americanah’s Ending
So, Ifemelu lets Obinze back into her life. After 600 pages of their stories, this was unsatisfying. Anticlimactic. After reading about Ifemelu’s independence and her spitfire personality, her ability to call out the host of a fancy-schmancy party in front of their peers, seeing her let this guy back into her life almost seems out of character! I mean, she was his mistress (something she looked down on Aunty Uju for doing… can you say hypocrite?) and across the novel, I got the distinct impression from her that it was all or nothing, Ifemelu had to be #1. My impression of her even held true for a while- she kicked him to the curb when he wouldn’t abandon his family for her (a decision I support, by the way). After he tells his wife that he’s divorcing her and giving her custody of their toddler, he shows up at Ifemelu’s door and doesn’t even have to say anything before she lets him in. It’s a happy ending sure, but it threw me for a loop when I first read it. I was just expecting… more, I guess.
Pros of Americanah’s Ending
So the book is a comedy. It’s a satire of American, Nigerian, and British culture wrapped up in a racial critique. A lot of the book is funny and the ‘moral of the story’ is a happy one: despite all of the struggles life puts you through, you can still end up happy. I didn’t entirely grasp this while reading the book, the things that stuck with me were the racial aspects and the mental illness and the failed relationships (what does that say about me?). But looking back, the uplifting theme is very clear. And honestly, post-Americanah, I don’t think any other ending would have done the book justice; there are so many dark themes in this book that a happy ending is necessary to get the theme across.
TLDR; The ending of Americanah is dissatisfying but in hindsight, is perfect for the book.