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Love when authors can articulate what many people think, but do not say out loud. And when they make you pause and reflect to come from a place of understanding – maybe not always agree, but at least empathetic and look at things, people, and events from a different perspective.
Ifemula, the main character from Nigeria, is that one strong, driven and independent friend who also hides her vulnerability. While the story of immigrants struggling to achieve the American dream and loss was engaging, I was more drawn to Ifemula’s voice and observations.
Here are some of the passages I flagged (among many).
“Race doesn’t really work here. I feel like I got off the plane in Lagos and stopped being black.”
“Obama…it’s not because he’s black, it’s because he’s a different kind of black.”
“Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier.”
“She is one of those black people who wants to be the only black person in the room, so any other black person is an immediate threat to her.”
We all know that one person
“He always spoke quickly, pugnaciously, as though every conversation was an argument, the speed and force of his words suggesting authority and discouraging dissent.”
“I don’t want to explain; I want to observe.”
Playing the victim
“His was the coiled, urgent restlessness of a person who believed that fate had mistakenly allotted him a place below his true destiny.”
“The wind blowing across the British Isles was odorous with fear of asylum seekers, infecting everybody with the panic of impending doom, and so articles were written and read, simply and stridently, as though the writers lived in a world in which the present was unconnected to the past, and they had never considered this to be the normal course of history: the influx into Britain of black and brown people from countries created by Britain. Yet he understood. It had to be comforting, this denial of history.”
“He had discovered that grief did not dim with time; it was instead a volatile state of being…other times, he forgot that she had died and would make cursory plans about flying to the east to see her.”
“Why…do our funerals become so quickly about other things that are not about the person who died?”
The main character is also a blogger. So these passages definitely spoke to me as I’ve had the same conversation with family and friends…more than once.
“You’re addicted to that phone.”
“Sorry, I was just checking my blog.”
She glanced at her phone again.
“It surprised her, which blog posts got attention and which were hardly clicked on.”