Review: The Thing Around Your Neck – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

20 - The Thing Around Your Neck

Rating 3*

I finally finished this book and, I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed. Now, don’t misunderstand me, this collection is incredible and her writing is beautiful but I think I went in to this with far too high expectations. Previous to this, I didn’t really get along with Americanah; I didn’t enjoy it and the problems I had with that I felt were also present here in some respects.

The collection primarily addresses Nigerian immigrants to north America. The stories were all powerful but having read The Alphabet of Birds which addresses a lot of the same themes, I found this just didn’t quite hit the mark when compared to it.

There were some stand out stories for me, I really liked ‘A Private Experience’, in which a Christian and a Muslim woman shelter together from a raging war between their faiths. It is possibly the most poignant of the collection, and even though I read it some time ago now it has stuck with me. Another I liked was ‘On Monday of Last Week’ which follows a Nigerian immigrant to America as she becomes a nanny to a wealthy family.

I found this collection very samey, a lot of the stories I felt were just the same thing told slightly differently. Once I had read one, I felt I had read them all. The characters all tended to blur together. I think it would be unfair to give it less than 3* because there were stand-outs in the collection, and the writing was beautiful even when I was feeling bored of the story. I think I’m slowly reaching the conclusion that me and Adichie’s writing are never going to fully click.

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Review: We Should All be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche


This is a very short essay that was written after Chimamanda’ s hugely successful TED talk on feminism. I haven’t seen the talk, but I have recently heard a number of good things about it, so it went on my to-read pile. It is only about 50 pages long and it seriously took me about half an hour to read before bed – it was very good food for thought!

Picking it up as an eBook for 99p for my kindle I couldn’t really complain. It was what I felt in the mood for and it is very rare I read on my kindle now but I wanted to read it, and I wanted to read it now! I’m really glad I succumbed to the desire because I really enjoyed this.

This is by no means an extensive text on the theory of feminism, it barely scrapes the surface but it is a very good introductory text on the subject. It covers pretty much all bases of gender equality from a personal perspective of Chimamanda herself, growing up in Nigeria and her experiences as a woman returning back to her roots.

It is, under no circumstances, perfect. There is casual cissexism, which may turn a fair few readers away but it is so well written. She is eloquent, she is unapologetic and I definitely liked this more than Americanah! As I said, it would be a really good introductory text to someone who is wanting to understand more about feminism and why, in 2015, we still need it. It was a solid 4/5.

Review: Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah Americanah is the first book of 2015 in one of the book groups that I’m part of. I’ve had it on my to read pile since September – I bought it on holiday with every intention of reading it while away. Anyway, I was excited to pick this up as I know it has received a lot of praise and critical acclaim, it is also a firm favourite of 2014 with a lot of the readers I follow youtube. Do I think it is worth all the praise? Yes, absolutely. Did I personally love it? No. I knew it was amazing, I knew that the subject was an important one but I just didn’t like it.

Her writing was beautiful and I wanted so badly to love this novel like so many others do. I did love a lot of it, the description was so vivid and it was definitely a really vibrant book too. I think it was a very important book to read but I find it’s very hard to enjoy a book to the full extent when you don’t feel engaged with the main character. Ifemelu is so hard to like and it’s really quite difficult to like a character when you’re unsure as to whether she even likes herself much. It’s hard to get engaged in a novel that is just shy of 500 pages long with a really unlikeable protagonist. I’m aware that it is really hard for an author to write a flawed protagonist, especially one as flawed as Ifem but the problem I have with her is that there is no justification or context for her flaws. She had issues that marred every relationship but they were just not dealt with at all.

There were some things I loved. I love the blog posts that show up in the novel. These were the most enlightening and passionate moments present. Certainly my eyes were opened to the many ways in which the western world is often blind to race and cultural identity. I just think that maybe characters were compromised for the sake of politics which isn’t what I was expecting at all as based on reviews I was expecting this to be a lot more driven by plot and character; but with quite flat characters and what I felt was a flimsy plot, it had a fair few holes in. I also found it quite difficult to follow conversation; while it was quite enlightening, when characters are flat the conversation is flat too and I just didn’t feel passion like I was expecting to fell.

Also, it’s worth noting that while reading this I kept getting reminded of White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I think there are a lot of parallels there actually and I may revisit White Teeth at some point just to compare the two a bit more.

Ultimately, this is probably a 3/5 book. It was good. It made me think. I will read more of her works in the future, that’s for certain. This book just wasn’t what I was expecting and while I appreciate what it was trying to say and do, I just didn’t enjoy it on a personal level. Her prose is beautiful, it’s vibrant and wonderful I just found that a lot of it fell flat for me unfortunately.