Book Review: Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


Book Review: Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Notes on Grief is an exquisite work of meditation, remembrance, and hope, written in the wake of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s beloved father’s death in the summer of 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic raged around the world, and kept Adichie and her family members separated from one another, her father succumbed unexpectedly to complications of kidney failure.

Expanding on her original New Yorker piece, Adichie shares how this loss shook her to her core.

She writes about being one of the millions of people grieving this year; about the familial and cultural dimensions of grief and also about the loneliness and anger that are unavoidable in it.

With signature precision of language, and glittering, devastating detail on the page–and never without touches of rich, honest humor–Adichie weaves together her own experience of her father’s death with threads of his life story, from his remarkable survival during the Biafran war, through a long career as a statistics professor, into the days of the pandemic in which he’d stay connected with his children and grandchildren over video chat from the family home in Abba, Nigeria.

In the compact format of We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele, Adichie delivers a gem of a book–a book that fundamentally connects us to one another as it probes one of the most universal human experiences.

Notes on Grief is a book for this moment—a work readers will treasure and share now more than ever–and yet will prove durable and timeless, an indispensable addition to Adichie’s canon.

Book Details

Format: 86 pages, Hardcover.

Published: May 11, 2021 by Knopf

ISBN: 9780593320808 (ISBN10: 0593320808)

Literary awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Memoir & Autobiography (2021)

My Review of Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Prior to the time I lost my dad, I didn’t know what grief was. The concept of death didn’t make sense to me. Because why should it?

Death was what happened to other people, grief was other people’s crosses to bear, and I didn’t imagine a day would come when I would feel what grief is, when I would want to explain what I feel, but would lack words.

I didn’t fully understand the concept of death, its permanence, its ability to snatch a part of your beating heart, leaving you powerless, crumpled, defeated.

Book Review: Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

And even when it hit me, I didn’t know what to call those emotions; that excruciating pain in your heart when your chest tightens to the realization that you would never be able to see your loved one again.

That ache in your head, when imaginary bricklayers lay bricks on it, forcing you to carry all that weight, to endure all that discomfort, when you think of all the times you didn’t do what they wanted, all the time you made them stress and shout.

This book carries words that I had longed to say, words that eluded me since the very first day I felt was grief was, firsthand.

Book Review: Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Grief isn’t an easy experience. This day, you think you’ve fully adjusted to the new life that’s void of your loved one, and the next, you’re crumbling in a disheveled heap, and wondering what you would have done better, if you can do anything at all to see them one last time and tell them you love them.

Adichie laments the loss of her father, and pens down what grief really is. The words in this book are for all of us, who have experienced grief, locked lips with it, drank from its cup, but don’t know how to translate that heart wrenching feeling into words.

She regrets making future plans with her father, saying these words, ’till next time,’ when there really is no next time.

The thing with time is that we think we have the monopoly of it. We make plans with the assurance that they will pull through. Is it not to call my dad? I will that later.

Book Review: Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

But what if that moment was the last and there’s really no later? How do we begin to adjust to the fact that later is a myth, and all we really have is now?

This book is beyond emotional, it strips you bare, and takes you to the memory lane, when you have all the time in the world to spend with your loved one, before they leave.

It’s as if Adichie went into my heart, and pushed out all the words I’d been trying to say.

You can’t believe how much I cried reading this book. One thing is to read about book with the indifference of a third party, and another is reading about your own life through the lens of an author.

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When they say ‘life is too short,’ we think we are the privileged ones, who have lots of time on their hands, and the shortness of life can never affect us. But we’re mistaken.

You would never understand the randomness of death, how often it strikes, how impartial it is, till it visits you, and only then will you realize that we won’t be here forever.

 So express those emotions, make those memories, because at the end of the day, all we have left is the memories we make with our loved ones.

Book Review: Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

This book offers consolation to anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one. It makes you feel seen. Its spirit of camaraderie is unmatched.

It literally says to you, “It’s okay to not know how best to verbalize this ill-feeling. It’s okay to crumble, to let it all out. It’s okay to pretend you are okay, but still cry the next minute. You are not alone. We are all in this together.”

I will quote my favorite part of the book:

Grief is a cruel kind of education. You learn how ungentle mourning can be. You learn how glib condolences can feel. You learn how much grief is about language, the failure of language and the grasping of language.

Chimamanda Adichie, Notes on grief.

Have you read the book? What do you think about it? Please share your thoughts with me in the comment section, and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on all social media platforms. Thank you for visiting Bookish Pixie.

Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.”

  1. Grief is always a heavy topic for me.

    I’ve lost a sister at an age I was barely able to understand my emotions.

    I’ve lost friends who were still alive and it stung just as bad.

    I’ve fallen into the dankest abyss of grief for celebrities who I never met or had a direct relationship with and it still felt like somebody wrenching the very heart out of my ribcage.

    I grieve different; I take grief badly, I’m a sore griever.

    A south African rapper I’ve never met died and I felt like my whole world crumbled.

    Even fictional deaths of characters I was attached to in movies or books leave me bawled up and wallowing in a pool of my own tears and drool.


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