Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Rating: 3/5

Category: Stage Production, Fiction

Synopsis

Well… it was interesting… In all seriousness, though, it’s not the worst play I’ve ever read, nor is it the best (hence the in-the-middle rating). Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is essentially about a late-night gathering gone wrong. Set sometime in the mid-1900’s in Carthage, New England, impromptu hosts Martha and George have a younger couple, Nick and Honey, visit them for a nightcap and “games.” Right away the audience (since this is a play, I will use this term rather than the usual “reader”) knows there are strange marital problems between Martha and George, so normal social pretenses are immediately out the window and weird relational chaos ensues all through the night.

What’s There to Like

You have to give it points for originality! The story is odd, but the dialogue is fast-paced and consumes the audience pretty quickly. I personally enjoyed that there are only four characters to follow in the dialogue – it makes the scenario a lot more intimate and even awkward at times because the audience feels like a third-wheel bystander through all the arguments.

What Didn’t Work

The story/relationship between Martha and George was extremely difficult to follow at times. I could never fully grasp if they were actually trying to kill each other. Nor could I fully understand George’s character – did he want the audience to feel sympathetic for him? Or is he actually crazier than Martha and lies through his teeth in the most neurotic of ways?

Conclusion

It’s a Broadway classic, so read it at your own discretion. And let me know your thoughts! I may need to read through it again at some point to make sure I grasped everything correctly, but overall it’s definitely an interesting read.

Americanah

Rating: 4/5

Category: Fiction

Synopsis

What a great read to begin this blog with. Americanah (by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) is about a young woman, Ifemelu, who leaves military-ruled Nigeria for the United States in hopes of getting her life started on the right track. But Ifemelu’s perceived glitz and glamor of American life comes to a startling halt when she realizes her academic success won’t take her as far as she thought it would, mainly because she has to confront what it means to be black in America. Full of determination, heartache, perseverance, and regret, Americanah is a tantalizingly heartwarming novel that will be sure to keep you wanting more.

What’s There to Like

Ifemelu is a great character to follow. She has a lot of personalities traits that I related with: thoughtful, questioning, resilient, and even self-deprecating. She’s not perfect! Ifemelu felt like a real person to me, and I couldn’t help but wonder if she is a small reflection of Adichie herself.

As books should be written, Adichie keeps you guessing on where the storyline will go. It was thoughtful the way the book was laid out, by switching back and forth between present and past. And the book kept an air of uncertainty with Ifemelu’s choices, making the read feel precarious and potentially devastating at times. But ultimately, Americanah remained a humorous read! I particularly loved the moments when Ifemelu’s blog posts were presented at specific points in the book – it brought out the comedy and the thought-provoking conversations in otherwise bleak situations.

What Didn’t Work

Obinze (Ifemelu’s childhood love interest) really didn’t interest me much. He actually felt rather flat. This confused and slightly disappointed me, because based off the summary on my book copy (Anchor Books 2013), I expected both characters to be equally compelling and fiery, written about just as much as the counterpart. But instead, I felt almost uncaring for Obinze. Was this the intent in comparison with Ifemelu? I don’t believe so.

Conclusion

Read this book! It will make you laugh, cry, and ponder over the societal cultures of the world (the bad and the small rays of good). Adichie’s novel warmed my heart and fired up my soul. I believe it will do the same for you.