Thursday, June 1, 2017

Book Review - Americanah & Crossing the Lines

Sometimes no matter how much we plan, things don't go as expected. In the midst of planning a wedding which by the way is going well, we've had some unexpected turn of events all related to our health. My husband has a nagging knee injury that required an MRI and my Little One suffered a third-degree burn. And life goes on.
So while working and waiting, I read. I'm reading my Bible and completing a Bible Study but I also read whatever interests me.

One of my newest favorite authors is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her most recent novel is Americanah which lived up to all of its positive reviews. Americanah captured all of my senses. I read it with awe not just at the storyline but at the way, the sentences were constructed and thoughts were developed. This is a confident writer who has no problem sharing her world, or her heritage with the reader. It's shared as common knowledge though it is new to many who are reading.
The story of our two protagonists - Ifemelu and Obinze starts off in Nigeria and winds its way through London, various cities on the East Coast of America and then back to Nigeria.
In mainstream culture - one would say they were high school sweethearts whose paths diverged and then they finally come back together. But in the Nigerian and African American cultures, this is so much more colorful. There are cultural norms associated with immigrating and then returning home - hence the name Americanah - a Nigerian slang term for someone returning from America pronounced with a heavy emphasis on the last syllable.
There's the plight of being undocumented while trying to maintain your dignity and make a living. There's getting to know others who are not like you and falling in love. There is losing yourself in love, yet trying to find out who you really are. There's a discovery of your race and what it means in other countries outside of your own; discovering you weren't black until you came to America. Then there's coming home and how it makes you feel whole again.
Through the eyes of Ifemelu and Obinze, we experience all of these things while we receive a sociology lesson on various cultures. This is pleasurable reading.

Then recently I read Crossing the Lines: A Novel by Richard Doster. This book caught me by surprise in a good way. I don't know why I downloaded it to my Kindle but I'm glad I did. Have you ever thought about the Civil Rights movement through the eyes of a white sports reporter who really loves the South but hates its portrayal to the entire world, while figuring out where he fits and how he feels based on his Christian faith? Those are the intersections that are explored in this book in a believable and entertaining fashion.
As a sports reporter, Josh Hall takes a stand on the integration of baseball and his family suffers for it. As they attempt to rebuild, he is presented with new professional opportunities that have him interviewing leaders of the Civil Rights Movement - Martin Luther King, in Montgomery Alabama and Arkansas. The book humanizes the bus boycott and the integration of Central High. While all of this is happening, we are also introduced to the genius behind the musicians B.B. King and Elvis Presley. We see how race impacted the music of the times and how we came to have the Blues and Rock and Roll.
The book is set in Atlanta, in a suburb, where Hall's local church also struggles with how to deal with integration. The struggle is for the "Beloved Community" that MLK envisioned and the one vs the exclusionary status quo.
This book is a lesson on race in America, with some of the ugliness removed.


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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for these reviews, they both look interesting! I hope life returns to normal for your family...sounds like a trying time.
    Visiting from #ChasingCommunity


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