Things Fall Apart (The African Trilogy #1) | Book Review

I hate required reading. The books are always so boring and they make no sense. For 10th grade, I had to read Things Fall Apart and I didn’t like it. When the teacher even hates the book, I don’t think that they should make you read the book. But, I finally finished the book and I am so glad. But, I am here with another book review and I am warning you about these spoilers that might come out of it.

thingsfallapart

Title: Things Fall Apart

Author: Chinua Achebe

Publisher: Heinemann

Released: 1958

Pages: 209 (Paperback)

THINGS FALL APART tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.
The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. THINGS FALL APART is the most illuminating and permanent monument we have to the modern African experience as seen from within.

Chinua Achebe

About the Author: Chinua Achebe was a novelist, poet, professor at Brown University and critic. He is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature. Raised by Christian parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. He became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a university student. After graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service and soon moved to the metropolis of Lagos. He gained worldwide attention for Things Fall Apart in the late 1950s; his later novels include No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987). Achebe writes his novels in English and has defended the use of English, a “language of colonizers”, in African literature. In 1975, his lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” became the focus of controversy, for its criticism of Joseph Conrad as “a bloody racist”. When the region of Biafra broke away from Nigeria in 1967, Achebe became a devoted supporter of Biafran independence and served as ambassador for the people of the new nation. The war ravaged the populace, and as starvation and violence took its toll, he appealed to the people of Europe and the Americas for aid. When the Nigerian government retook the region in 1970, he involved himself in political parties but soon resigned due to frustration over the corruption and elitism he witnessed. He lived in the United States for several years in the 1970s, and returned to the U.S. in 1990 after a car accident left him partially disabled. Achebe’s novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of values during and after the colonial era. His style relied heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He also published a number of short stories, children’s books, and essay collections. He became the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, United States. Achebe died at age 82 following a brief illness.

My Review:

I didn’t go into this book with really high expectations. I really have no interest in this type of book because it’s not my cup of tea. I would rather go and read something that was released in the past 20 years.

The book was written was too cultured and I don’t know how I felt about it. I liked the fact that everyone was based off of something true and it opened my eyes into something I never imagined. I just didn’t like trying to pronounce all the names in the books. I also really hated the fact that almost every guy in the book had like 5 or 6 wives. Like this is a normal thing that people do every single day. Like a guy makes all of their wives cook a different meal and have to eat them all.

Okonkwo was a terrible man and I wanted to rip his head off. He treated his five wives like they were animals on his farm. He treated his kids but his oldest son and favorite daughter like they are horrible and they have no respect. I don’t think he ever treated anyone with any respect. I did feel bad when Okonkwo’s son went to join the church but I still hated him because he basically disowned him. I don’t think that there is any moment that I really liked Okonkwo – most of the time, I just wanted to get my hands around his neck and strangle him.

The book is divided into three parts and the only part I really enjoyed was the first part. I wish that the first part of the book was it because the second and third part were really boring and basically made no sense to the rest of the book. The first part was really interesting and I was really interested in knowing more about the book.

The connection between Nwoye and Ikemefuna was one of the best things in the book. These two fit together like a pea in a pod. Nwoye was Okonkwo’s oldest son and all Okonkwo wanted was him to go and get married. Okonkwo even goes on to say that when he was like 14 or 15 that he should already have his first wife and be expecting his first child or something already. Ikemefuna was sent to go and live with Okonkwo when his father was killed. I loved Ikemefuna. He had such a great story and he lost so much from a very young age. When Okonkwo goes out to get Ikemefuna killed when he is on his way home to his mom and sister, I wanted to throw the book against the book. Watching Ikemefuna grow up was one of my favorite things in the world because you saw him from this scared little boy to this strong man who can take control of a problem. It was such a beautiful progression that I have never seen better written.

The book wasn’t badly written. It was easy to follow along and understand everything that was going on. I just didn’t like the book. I felt like there was so many details in the first half of the book that the author grew a little bored by the time that part two and three came along. The book – thank god – included a glossary for people like me that had no idea what some of those words were in the book. The book had so many details that it just made the book come to life. When a book comes to life, that gives the book a little more credit from me. The book was written for a certain culture and location, Umuofia, where they believe in idolizing a main figure in an area of living and they see women as people with no rights. I liked how they brought in the ‘missionaries’ in the book and had Nwoye become part of them because it was something that I didn’t see coming. I also liked how the whole thing with Mr. Brown and Okonkwo was about the differences in the religion. Mr. Brown wanted to allow everyone to have their own viewpoints and wanted everyone to think anyway they wanted. Okonkwo wanted everyone to believe his way because he was like the town’s God. I liked the use of the religion in this sort of way but over all, there was a little too much for me.

Overall, I think that I would have to give this book a 2.5 out of 5 stars. It wasn’t the worse book that I have read but it was not the best book I have read. It is the worse book that I had to read for 10th grade required reading so far but there is still one more book I have to read. If you are interested in learning how things happened back in Umuofia in the 1800’s or just have an interest in knowing about how religion can make people believe interesting things, this is the book for you. There really isn’t any harsh scenes or any language in the book but I would still have a mature reader read it over anyone. I understand why they made us read it for the class but the teacher didn’t even like reading it. What is the point of making me read it if the teacher didn’t like it?

Have you read this book? Did you read it for fun or was it required reading? What was the best and worse required reading that you had to do? What made it the best and the worse? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Happy Reading,
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