I don't know, I kind of resisted reading this book because of the hype. I did try flipping through it several times at the bookstore, but I could never find myself drawn into it from a page or two.
But, I had a free sample of it on my iPhone Kindle, and I didn't have anything else to read in my bag one day waiting on line somewhere in Shanghai. And I think I might have been particularly missing my best friend, who is half Nigerian and grew up in America and could easily have written the voice and character of Ifemelu, or at least her blog on race. In fact, my best friend did have a blog about race in America for a while. When she resurrects it in all its glory, I'll link it everywhere from here.
Well, after that chapter and a half I was hooked. Oh it's been such a long time since I actually liked a main character I was reading. Your traditionally complex, whiney, even broken character is always interesting, but I think I was ready for a charming voice, a female voice, or maybe just a familiar voice. I loved this book, loved learning from this book, loved feeling from this book. I loved Ifemelu's strength and her vulnerability. And I loved her hypocrisy and egotism, especially as the plot unfolds in the end.
Using a blog to strengthen the readers' sense of Ifemelu's voice is a smart choice, and entertaining too. Adichie does a lot of things - flashing back often to changing periods of time, switching between points of view, voice - but it's all seamless. You don't realize you've been craving a change of pace until the next chapter, when all of a sudden you're reading from a man's perspective and it feels so necessary and inevitable and satisfying. This is her skill as a writer - to never tire, to be constantly fresh.
Please excuse the huge gap in reading and blogging - I've been blissfully crazy with wedding and honeymoon planning. :)