WWW Wednesday, 3-March-2021

3 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I got through a few pages of Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono so this is still moving, though at a snail’s pace.
On hold with Mil veces hasta siempre (Turtles All the Way Down) by John Green. Stand by.
I’ve been able to renew Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson so I’m not as stressed about finishing this one. I have a little bit of time that I can enjoy starting my Buddy Read soon!
I started a for-fun audiobook in The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee but I had to put this on hold because I realized my next book club audio is 22 hours! I’m really enjoying this so far, just trying to meet the deadlines I have.
So I started The Overstory by Richard Powers. I hadn’t heard of this one before and all I really know going in is that it has a natural world bend and it’s super long. Here’s hoping I can finish it in time for the book club meeting!

Recently finished: I stayed up late to finish Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe before the file returned. Totally worth it. This was one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in a while and I really enjoyed it. I wish I’d read this book before my husband and I visited Belfast in 2018. We decided not to do a Black Taxi tour because of our short time, opting for the Titanic Museum and the Giant’s Causeway instead. I’m wishing now we’d scheduled another day there to see more about the city’s history.

Reading next: I’ll be starting The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett soon. I think I need some fiction with so much non-fiction going on and I have a feeling I’ll fly through this one to our stopping points. It will be a nice change of pace and I’m looking forward to diving in.

Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Book Review: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

2 Mar

I didn’t know how much I was going to enjoy this story until I was already engrossed in it. I visited Belfast in 2018, mostly to see the Titanic Museum. I didn’t know much about The Troubles. I knew about the IRA only from the parallels drawn between it and ETA, which I did my undergraduate thesis on. This research gave me the perspective that the IRA is a terrorist organization. But this book rarely uses that word. It’s more often referred to as a paramilitary group. I think that different perspective is what made this book so fascinating to me.

Cover via Amazon

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

Summary from Amazon:

In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville’s children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress–with so many kids, she had always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes.

Patrick Radden Keefe’s mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also I.R.A. members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders. From radical and impetuous I.R.A. terrorists such as Dolours Price, who, when she was barely out of her teens, was already planting bombs in London and targeting informers for execution, to the ferocious I.R.A. mastermind known as The Dark, to the spy games and dirty schemes of the British Army, to Gerry Adams, who negotiated the peace but betrayed his hardcore comrades by denying his I.R.A. past–Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish.

Some of this was so crazy that you wanted it to be fiction instead of a bitter true history. The murders and deaths were terrible and hearing about the dangers of daily life in Belfast during this time made me wonder why my mother didn’t stop me from visiting because of old headline fears. This book took decades worth of headlines and developments and told a story. While it starts and ends with Jean McConville, the story seems to spend a lot of time with Dolours Price. Price’s story is an extreme example of the IRA’s brutality but it highlighted much of the organization’s history without bringing in too many other people. I found it fascinating to hear about an armed struggle from the side I’d always been told was the enemy. I won’t say this changed my opinion of the IRA; more that it helped me understand why someone would be drawn to the other side.

Keefe did an amazing amount of research for this and it showed. Most of the major players in the story are now dead and his stories of and about them come from news articles and interviews that he poured over for years. Dolours and Brendan Hughes seemed more well rounded in the book than Dolours’s sister Marian or Gerry Adams. I wasn’t surprised to hear that the later are still alive.

I had a love/hate relationship with Price through the book. She had ideals I could never sympathize with and she went to lengths I would never consider. But I had to admire her determination. I think, directed in a different direction, she could have been famous for very different reasons. It’s a result of location that she turned into a bomber and criminal. I think she could have done great things if she’d directed her attentions and focus in other directions.

I think I was so intrigued by the people in this book because their lives were so different from mine. I’ve not had to deal with religious oppression, the driving force behind the IRA, or another form of surpression or opression that would have driven me to take a path similar to the IRA members highlighted in this book. I’ve never suffered political violence like the McConville family. It’s hard for me to fathom what it would have been like to be in their shoes. I think this is part of why I wish I knew this story better before visiting Belfast. I would have wanted to learn more about it and get a different feeling for a place that could give birth to the IRA.

Patrick Radden Keefe
Image via the author’s website

There were two parts of the story I found most interesting. The first was the 1970s, the hight of Dolours’s involvement in the IRA and a large part of the book. The activities undertaken and efforts of the group to gain political power were fascinating. The second was the Belfast Project. It’s amazing that the Boston College historians were able to get the interviews they did. I’m fascinated by the lack of legal protections the project provided and I’m a bit disappointed that the noble goal of the project fell apart so quickly. I’m interested to see who else did interviews and hope that as time passes, more information can come out of the project to provide peace of mind and closure to remaining victims.

For a long time, it didn’t seem like the stories in the book would come together. There was a long stretch in the middle when McConville wasn’t mentioned at all. It seemed like almost an afterthought to have added her kidnapping at the beginning and I wondered repeatedly how it would ever come together in the end. I was frustrated in the middle, waiting and waiting for things to be relevant again. While they eventually were, this was my only frustration with the book.

The audiobook was narrated by Matthew Blaney and the voice in my head took on his accent for hours after listening. I’m glad they got an Irish narrator for this book. It seemed a little out of place at the very end when Keefe mentions that he’s American born, but I think the book woul have lost a lot of it’s impact if the narrator had been American as well. Keefe’s Irish roots were what drew him to this story so it seems appropriate to have an Irish narrator.

It’s the memory of the IRA and what it did that stays with this book throughout. Dolours is warned once against speaking about what happened to McConville because she has children. It’s the McConville children who eventually identify their mother. The things that happened in the 70s still have strong impacts today. This is worth remembering for all major decisions made by a generation.

Writer’s Takeaway: Nonfiction is a fight I’m not sure I could win. The amount of research that’s evident in Keefe’s writing is amazing. It’s clear he poured over many primary sources, articles, and secondary histories that helped him weave this story. His ability to jump from person to person to tell a full story made this a joy to read and gave the reader a great perspective of the IRA as a whole and how it changed and eveolved. My hat is off to Keefe. I don’t think I would ever try to duplicate his amazing efforts.

This book was fascinating and a joy to read. A full Five out of Five Stars.

I’ve decided to give this book the 1980-1999 time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge. It’s debatable, but it feels appropriate.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Posts: 
Patrick Radden Keefe, “Say Nothing” | Don’t Need a Diagram 
Book Review: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe | Karissa Reads Books 
Book Review: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe | What Kaitlyn Thinks 
Say Nothing: The True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe | Disco Demolition Night 

Challenge Update, February 2021

1 Mar

This month was a bit rough, but we’re coming through it with flying colors. And it’s even warm outside today! You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in February:

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

Two long audiobooks this time around. I’ve been slow in my physical reading. And I should be caught up with reviews by tomorrow!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

6/12
I’m on a roll here! Every book I’ve read this year has fulfilled a different time period. I know this luck can’t hold forever but I’m going to love it while I’m at it. The time periods I have left are a bit harder to land so I know this will slow down a bit but I’m in a good place to deal with it.

Goodreads Challenge

6/45
I’m a little bit behind here but I’m OK with this. I had some long audiobooks recently and a lot of non-fiction which tend to be slower reads for me. I’m about to get into some fiction that I think will flow a lot faster and it will be fun to see how soon I can catch up.

Book of the Month

Even with only two books, there was a clear winner. Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in ages. I can’t wait to talk to my book club about it and see what they thought. I think this will be a good discussion piece.

Added to my TBR

I’m down overall to 39, but I did add a book this month.

  • The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett. This is my next book with my reading buddy and I should be starting it soon. So many people have had good things to say that I’m stoked to get started and see if I agree.

How are your challenges going? I hope your year is starting off well. If you’re interested in the When Are You Reading? Challenge for 2021, I’m hosting again so you can click here to learn more and let me know if you want in.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Off-Topic Thursday: Little Turtle

25 Feb

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. It feels like a good time to get back to it, though. Things have been a little crazy the last few months at work and with my personal life and it’s good to take a step back and share some good news with everyone.

My husband and I are thrilled to announce we’re welcoming a baby in early August! This is our first child and we’re very much looking forward to this. We told our parents at Christmas and started telling friends in late January and early February. Now the cat’s out of the bag.

We’re just starting to get the nursery ready. We had some friends help move some furniture around and my parents brought over the crib my dad made when I was a baby. My favorite reading chair is now going to be my favorite nursing chair. We’ll have to do some more shopping soon, but we’re just thrilled to be this far so quickly.

I’m in my second trimester and feeling a million times better than I did in December and January. I had bad nausea, digestion problems, and fatigue for three weeks that kept me very home-bound. I’ve started swimming again now and I’m almost back to eating spicy foods. My weirdest cravings have been fried chicken sandwiches. We’re not finding out the sex of the baby so we’re starting to think of names for whichever way this turns out.

I’m very lucky to have a number of close friends who have young babies or who are also pregnant that I’m sharing this with and learning from. One friend with a six-month-old has offered us use of some of her things if we don’t want to buy our own. We’ve had meaningful conversations with many people about cloth diapers. We’re really just excited and I have to say I’m also a bit anxious about the next five months.

So if I disappear for a bit in August, please forgive me. I’ll try to schedule some WWWs ahead in case I can’t get on here to post for a few weeks. I plan to keep the blog moving, though a few things might look a little different after the baby comes. I hope it loves books as much as I do.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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WWW Wednesday, 24-February-2021

24 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I read about a chapter of Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono while waiting at the pool. I think this is pretty steady progress so I’m happy with how this is going, even though it’s very slow.
On hold with Mil veces hasta siempre (Turtles All the Way Down) by John Green. Stand by.
I might not finish Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe before my hold is due. I’m trying my hardest, but time is working against me. I put a physical copy on reserve at my library in case I don’t finish in hopes I can wrap up the last few chapters in print before my book club meets.
I’m racing the clock on Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson as well. I hope I can finish this one before it’s due because I don’t think I can renew it.

Recently finished: I’m disappointed that there’s nothing here for a second week in a row. I’m just hoping I can break this trend next week.

Reading next: My reading buddy and I finally decided on our next book which will be The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett. We went back and forth with some lists and finally settled on this one. I know almost nothing about it except that it’s gotten amazing reviews and I’m excited to discover why.

Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Book Club Reflection: The Bear by Andrew Krivak

22 Feb

My book club met recently to read a book I was not a fan of, The Bear by Andrew Krivak. Krivak was a National Book Award finalist for another book, The Sojourn, and is working on another book. One of our readers did a book club for his other book and Krivak joined the discussion! She said he was very nice and spoke about his time as a Jesuit. He’s published a memoir about his eight years in the Jesuit order called The Long Retreat. We could see some contemplative reflections in this book that many felt were in line with a monk’s life. Krivak has said he made up a story for his children about a talking bear and that inspired the bear in this novel. He also said he was inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s The Road which another reader had guessed before our leader volunteered this information.

Our group had divided opinions on this book. Some loved it, a few (like me) hated it, and many were in the middle. Those of us who didn’t know it was going to be a fable were more on the ‘dislike’ side. A few readers had found the audiobook version and opinions there were split between love and hate as well.

The setting was never made very clear. Some felt it was Colorado while others thought Appalachia was more likely. Readers not knowing a lot about what was happening was reflective of the characters not knowing a lot, either. They had such minimal contact with other humans that there was a lot unspoken and unknown in their world. This book was described as a ‘quiet survivalist’ story. It was harrowing because of the girl’s personal struggle, but there wasn’t a community or society that was falling apart.

We thought the book would have been different if the child had been a boy and not a girl. We couldn’t exactly articulate what, but the ways the girl seemed to want to understand her late mother seemed to call on gender lines and wanting to be more like another woman. However, it the world started with Adam, maybe it was fitting that it should end with Eve. We found it odd that the father was so careful in everything he did and all the preparations that he made. Yet he was so reckless when exploring the old house. It was the only time he was impulsive and it spelled his ending. The bear was like her father once he showed up. In one of the girl’s dreams, she thinks she sees her dad but it ends up being the bear. We wondered if the bear was part of her grieving process for her dad’s death.

The book focused on re-establishing a connection with nature. Man is an animal, like all others in nature. However, many of us felt that paying attention to the trees and nature doesn’t have to mean talking to them, and this went a bit far. It was more about learning from nature and how to survive from the animals that do it already.

I was glad to meet up with this group, even if I didn’t like the book very much. It’s always great to talk to other book lovers. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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WWW Wednesday, 17-February-2021

17 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I got into the pool quickly this week so almost no progress on Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono. Maybe I’ll have some ‘better luck’ in this next week.
Still nothing with Mil veces hasta siempre (Turtles All the Way Down) by John Green since I have it on hold. I’m sure I’ll get back to it soon.
I’m loving Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe. I find every excuse to put it on and listen because I find it fascinating hearing about the political force of the IRA. I’d always been told it was a terrorist group but it’s clear the soldiers for the IRA would be infuriated to hear this.
I’m eager to get through Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson before it’s due to the library. I hope I can find enough time to get through it!

Recently finished: Nothing new finished this week. I was at the beginning of a lot of books last week so no real surprise.

Reading next: I’ll have to make some decisions next week about what to put here, but I’m going to hold off one more week. I think book club selections may come up soon so I may have to adjust.

Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Book Club Reflection: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

15 Feb

This is much delayed, but I’m finally ready to write my Book Club Reflection for Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche! I have to apologize for the delay since I did finish the book a few weeks ago. I wanted to delay writing this post until after I got through the end of the book but then I put it off too long after. I’ll be writing soon about my delays in posting so you all can get an update on my life. But for now, let’s dive into this complex book.

Adichie has done a few TED Talks that our organizer is a big fan of. Here are links to two, The danger of a single story and We should all be feminists. I’m still making my way through them but have enjoyed her way of speaking so far. Adiche started school in Nigeria, much like Ifemelu, and transferred to the US, first studying in Philadelphia and then Connecticut. Her tone is very funny and humorous and her perspective on American culture is a source of laughter. She was quoted once saying she was surprised people didn’t find it as funny as she thought it was. One of our readers found the book too long and a bit dry though most loved it, despite the length. We felt the book was about a lot of things. It was clearly about race and racism but it’s also about sex and sexism, the migrant experience, the strength of first love, and returning home. If you’ve read my review, you know that I think there was too much in this book and I think this list of themes highlights that.

The title of the book comes from the nickname Nigerians give to those who have lived in America and return with some Americanized ideas and inclinations. We found it was very interesting that for so much of the book, Ifemelu was sitting at the salon, getting her hair done. Apparently, this was done on purpose, to emphasize the culture surrounding African hair and how much time is put into maintaining a hairstyle. One thing that surprised us in the book was that Adichie comments many times about the quality of Nigerian schools being so much better than American novels. Ifemelu is shocked at Dike’s school experience and how much she feels it is lacking compared to her own grade school. With Adiche’s and Ifemelu’s decisions to come to college in the US, this was a bit inconsistent with some of the other messages in the book. The ending was a bit abrupt, one reader called it a cliffhanger. We all agreed that it was very suspenseful until the end because you were waiting to hear what happened between Obinze and Ifemelu.

There were a few themes that came up often. The blog posts that Ifemelu has in the book were a good way to talk about topics that might have been difficult to address in the novel without that forum. Many of the relationships in the book involved women pursuing men for financial reasons. Auntie Ouju’s first marriage in the US was someone she didn’t love, but she felt she needed to be married. Obinze’s wife clearly wanted to be with him for money as well. It made Ifemelu and Obinze’s relationship stick out. As Americans, many of us found it off-putting that weight comes up a lot in descriptions and conversation. Adichie does comment on this, about how weight is a bigger taboo in the US, and Americans are less comfortable talking about weight and pointing out when someone’s weight is higher than what we think it should be.

One of the biggest themes in the book was about being Black and what that means. Ifemelu says a few times that she wasn’t Black in Africa. The Nigerians divided themselves by culture or nation, not by the colors of the skin. She wasn’t Black until she came to the US. Ifemelu decides to label herself as Nigerian, not Black. But she realizes that others were going to decide she was Black without her opinion being considered. America wanted to pigeonhole her and put a label on her even if she didn’t identify with it.

Auntie Ouju and Dike were some of our favorite characters in the book. Auntie Ouju had redemption in her arc. She learned things, regretted them, and made her own way in a world that wasn’t making it easy for her. Dike had a hard time growing up with her, however. While Auntie Ouju is an adult when she’s having the identity crisis that Ifemelu blogs about. Dike is a child when he’s having this crisis and it’s harder for him than his mother seems to realize. Some felt that Dike’s suicide attempt came out of nowhere. Some of us felt that felt like he didn’t have an identity. His peers thought he was an American Black and his mother saw him as African and we felt these identities were hard for him to balance. Many felt that his visit to Nigeria was very healing because it allowed him to feel like he fit in finally and see where his mother came from and helped explained her expectations and behavior. Dike and Ifemelu were very close, more than most cousins, and we were glad they had this good relationship.

Obinze and Ifemelu’s relationship was a very central part of the book. One reader felt it was a very unhealthy relationship. There was a lot of physical and emotional cheating due to trauma that the characters had suffered. Another thought it was admirable. Obinze admired Ifemelu’s because of her intelligence and what she was capable of on her own. After finishing the book, I think I have to agree with the first reader.

I’m glad I was still able to participate in this discussion, even if I didn’t understand it all at the time. It was good to revisit my notes after I’d finished it. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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WWW Wednesday, 10-February-2021

10 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Waiting for a lane at the pool is a thing again. So I’ve made decent progress with Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono this week. I’m starting to swim a little more so I hope I can keep this up. I’m about 1/4 done.
I’m paused with Mil veces hasta siempre (Turtles All the Way Down) by John Green while I work through some library holds, but I’ll be coming back to it soon!
I started Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe on audio and I’m loving it! I wish I’d read this before I visited Belfast in 2019 because I think it would have given me a lot more insight into the city (my focus was the Titanic museum and we didn’t have time for a Black Cab tour). This is for book club and I’ve got my fingers crossed that I finish it in time.
I got my hold of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson and I’m optimistic I’ll finish it before I have to return it in early March. The Dummies books tend to be pretty fast reads for me. I’m hoping this can help me get writing again, too. Or at least submitting.

Recently finished: I finished up Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie late last week and was able to post my review yesterday. I’ll have a delayed book club reflection up tomorrow. Please go check out my review and let me know what you think! I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading next: Nothing right now. I’m so early in all my books that it seems a bit to early to think ahead. I just hope I can finish them all in a timely manner. I do need a new Buddy Read if anyone has suggestions for that.

Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (4/5)

9 Feb

I read this book too slowly. I started the audiobook later than I intended to in order to meet an end-of-year challenge deadline and I missed being anywhere close to finishing it by my book club meeting. With no pressure to finish it, I slowed down even more and took almost a month longer than the meeting before I finished it. It’s not that the book was bad, but it was long. And without commutes, running, or much of anything going on, audiobooks are not a fast medium for me.

Cover image via Amazon

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Summary from Amazon:

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time.

Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland. 

In the end, I was left a bit confused by this book. On one hand, it’s about race in America and Ifemelu’s observations of race and reflections on how it affects people. On the other hand, it’s a love story about two people living in Nigeria, where they clearly say race is not a factor. While these are both good stories, they’re not very well related, yet they live together in this book. I liked both stories, I enjoyed the insights about love and race, but it felt disconnected to me which took away from my overall enjoyment.

Ifemelu and Obinze were amazing characters and I loved them both. I felt like Ifemelu was more the main character and her story was a lot stronger. Her life in America, the life she formed for herself and the way she observed American culture was great. I laughed a lot at her blog posts, both her tone and her bold observations. I liked the ways she navigated America and I felt the hardships she faced were very real and I understood why she felt the way she did about my culture.

Obinze surprised me the most. I was a bit surprised when he decided to move to the UK. I would have understood better if he’d gone for school, but going to work seemed weird to me. If he had a job lined up, something that was going to pay well, that was one thing. But going to work whatever job he could, it seemed he would have been better off in Nigeria. I was a bit surprised by his sudden success because the lifestyle it afforded him seemed out of line with the character we’d learned up until that point. It was clear he wasn’t chasing that life, but I didn’t expect him to be so comfortable in it.

I didn’t relate to a character, but I related to the America Ifemelu described. I saw my city and my school and even myself in her observations. I realized things that I had accepted as ‘standard’ that need to be challenged. I realized how funny certain ‘normal’ things might seem to someone on the outside. I learned to laugh at myself and get why I need to open my eyes and realize that what I consider OK might need to change.

Ifemelu’s blog posts were my favorite part of the story. I think the men she dated in America made it easier for her to make some of the observations she did and that might have helped her write it (and been a bit convenient for the writer). Curt’s wealth got her into parts of society most people can’t even imagine. It also showcased white privilege and prejudices as old as America. Her relationship with Blane let her give a commentary on the Black American experience and contrasted with her time with Curt. I would have liked if she had some more friends to help create these dichotomies but the resulting observations were wonderful anyway.

The end of the book wasn’t great for me (spoilers ahead). I was happy when she and Obinze got back together, but I was reserved about it as well. I didn’t like that he was married and how she accepted this at first, being okay with her role as a mistress. I didn’t like how she would ignore the truth. She had come really far in her self-realization journey and this seemed like a major step back. And I found it hard to believe she was going to be comfortable with their arrangement long term. It seemed like a sudden ending no one was going to be happy living with.

The audiobook was narrated by Adjoa Andoh who did an amazing job. I wasn’t a huge fan of some of her American accents, which came off as a bit nasal, but I could ignore it for the beautiful voices she gave all the other characters. Her voices helped me keep the cast of characters separate and enjoy the story being told to me. I’d listen to another book read by her in a heartbeat.

Race was clearly the main theme of this book, even if it didn’t fit well with the overall plot of Ifemelu and Obinze. The observations Ifemelu makes about race and racial relations in America take over the book and the long period of time she spends in America, becoming the titular Americanah, dominates the length of the book. Dike’s story really highlights the experiences she talks about. His experience is more similar to an American-born Black because of his appearance and he is subjected to prejudice and injustice throughout his childhood. Yet at home, his mother holds different ideas of identity and sees him and herself as different from American-born Blacks. His first-generation immigrant experience isn’t like those who have different external appearances because his is tinged by racial assumptions. He was a great character in this book to help highlight this experience.

Writer’s Takeaway: Adichie is known to be outspoken about feminism and race. Using a novel to share this was a great medium, though it seemed a bit heavy-handed at times. Ifemelu’s story in America was great on its own and Ifemelu and Obinze’s love story was great on its own. Combining them was a bit too much for me and I think contributed to the length of this book and a bit of a rushed ending. Maybe this would have been better as two books.

An enjoyable read though a bit too much for one title. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the 2000-Present time period of the 2021 When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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