She wanted to start school, to find the real America, and yet there was that gnawing in her stomach, an anxiety, and a new, aching nostalgia… -Ifemelu
For a moment, place yourself in an immigrant’s shoes, and ask yourself, what is freedom?
Ifemelu seems to not catch a break while living in America, land of the “free”. Our democratic government gives an illusion of hope to everyone who is American. For others, they fight tooth and nail to get over the border. Especially Ifemelu, when she faces an impossible reality of hunger strikes to get military funding and teacher pay, she and her friends suffer the consequences. The choice to leave your country, your home for a better life, on a student visa. The book starts out as Ifemelu decides to return to her old country after living fifteen years in America, what when wrong? The reader is taken on a journey to the past in order to find out the truth behind the departure from America.
Chimamanda writes a different kind of love story between childhood crushes, living in a world normal to them, but foreign to us, Americans. Especially African Americans, we share the freedom of birthright in this land, but no military government is controlling our resources, unlike in this fictional Nigeria. Each chapter, Chimamanda gives more and more information of the characters being force into conformity in order to fit in, and be accepted as foreign-Americans. Just like in our present times, people are still trying to conform to fit in and stay in, yet others, fight the organizational culture within America.