Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Written by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, a Nigerian journalist, and Vivianna Mazza, an Italian journalist.
We are introduced to the teenage girl narrating this book by what she wants; what her dreams are. A new pair of red shoes. A good harvest. A scholarship to university. Becoming a teacher. Getting married to a good man.
For the first half of this book, we learn of her life, the daily life of her village and family. She has dreams; she loves her family; she has a crush on her boy. She and her family are Christian, but one of her best friends is Muslim. Violence exists elsewhere in their country because of the terrorist group Boko Haram, but in their village, people of different religions get along.
Halfway through the book, Boko Haram attack the village. The narrator and her friends are among a group who are kidnapped. At first, she thinks she is lucky: she is not dead, like the rest of her village. Like some of her family.
The second half is her life as a captive. Boko Haram force all the captives to follow their own radical beliefs. She watches as friends are beaten; her name is changed; she is forced into a marriage. It is heart breaking.
This is a work of fiction, based on the real life kidnappings in Nigeria, and the real stories of some of the girls who have been kidnapped. I fell in love with this girl and her world and her voice, and I hope the world is kind to her.
A note on the violence: yes. It’s there. But it’s not explicit. Don’t get me wrong – it’s horrifying. But it’s the “one sentence” description, not pages of description.
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