What Napoleon Could Not Do

This was at times, very depressing to read, but also a beautiful book. It is the story of brother and sister Belinda and Jacob and in a way, it is a bit of an anti-American Dream. They grew up in Ghana but their lives took very different paths. We meet Jacob on the day of his divorce (from a wife living in America, who he’s never met). All he wants is to get to America; he feels as though everything will go right for him if he can just get there. Meanwhile his sister Belinda managed to get their for boarding school, and then went on to get several fancy degrees and marry rich. As her father puts it, she has done “what Napoleon could not do.” The thing is, neither of them are happy. Nor is Belinda’s wealthy husband Wilder. Despite growing up in America, and having more than he could ever need, he’s still Black in America. We get to know each character as the book is broken into three chapters. It broke my heart more than once (especially Wilder’s section). If I had to say what the theme of the book is, it would be disappointment in America (experienced by three very different situations). This has been on every best books list and it is (especially as a privileged white person), hard to read, but it’s beautifully written and has an important message.