Teen Volunteer Review: Things Fall Apart

This summer, Boston Public Library's teen volunteer program has gone remote! As part of this program, local high schoolers will be sharing their thoughts on books, movies, and more on our blog. Recently, teen volunteer Deborah Adebanjo, a local high school junior, read Things Fall Apart. Check out her thoughts about what she liked, what she didn't like, and whether or not she recommends reading it!

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe focuses on Okonkwo, a tragic hero. He is a traditional Igbo man that is dominating, masculine, and a warrior. He isn’t able to stop his culture and traditions from falling apart as much as he struggles to keep things together.

I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I love it because it was one of my first introductions to African literature. It hit close to home because the book takes place in Nigeria and I am Nigerian.  I loved recognizing the Nigerian food that was mentioned, though I will admit I often did get hungry because of that. Igbo words were added to the text when the characters were conversing and when the narrator was too. This made the book come to life and made you feel as if actual Igbo people were talking and that you were in Nigeria. The fun part was that you also learn new Igbo terms like "egwugwu", which are spirits that walk the earth; "nso-ani", which is the breaking of the week of peace; and "ilo", the village playground. 

I did, however, dislike Okonkwo. He was a bit extreme in many instances which I felt were unnecessary. The ending was unexpected to me. I was expecting a different outcome so the plot twist was actually surprising for me. The book definitely pulls on your heartstrings and emotions. Be ready to go through an emotional rollercoaster if you’re sensitive like me. 

The plot was very unique and gave me a new perspective on African history. It may also give you a new perspective on African history that you wouldn't otherwise get from reading, learning, or watching a video about it. If you love reading African literature and learning about African culture and history, this is the book for you. This is a great book with many themes to pull from. I recommend everyone read it, regardless of your interest in African history.