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Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree

Review

Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree

written by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani with an afterword by Viviana Mazza

In a Nigerian village a girl has dreams of a university degree that a prestigious government scholarship could actually give her. Just as she wins the scholarship however, Boko Haram, a terrorist group, attacks her village. Her brothers and father are killed along with the other men in the village. The girls are all taken by Boko Haram and are subjected to listen to the radical Islamic beliefs of the terrorist group. The girls who were captured are a mix of Muslims and Christians but the Christians are forced to abandon their beliefs as the Boko Haram leaders force them to convert. Writing based on interviews from women and girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, author Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani paints a vivid and horrifying tale of survival, hope and fortifying strength.

" The injustices and human rights violations that Boko Haram caused are sickening and I am so grateful to have been able to read this book and know more about a global event that I should have been aware of before."

I must confess that the events of Boko Haram and the #bringbackourgirls campaign were unknown to me prior to this summer. In my journalism lecture my professor actually showed us a Ted Talk where a journalist discusses fake news and how much it harmed the Bring Back Our Girls campaign when it came to the Boko Haram kidnappings. Imagine my surprise when I started reading BURIED BENEATH THE BAOBAB TREE and realized that it was about the same event. I was heartbroken while watching the Ted Talk and I was horrified while reading the book with my new knowledge that fake news created a clout of thought that dismissed the kidnappings as fake.

News actually played a large role in this book. The stark contrasts in the radio news between events happening in present day in Western culture positioned next to events happening at the same time in Nigeria created such a juxtaposition that it was almost laughable. In one instance, the Academy Award nominations or winners were announced and then in the paragraph later the details of the latest Boko Haram attack were announced and suddenly the Academy Awards seemed almost trivial compared to the very real terrorist attacks happening in a different country. In addition to the contrast in the news between Western and African culture, I couldn’t believe when the narrator was describing going to school on her period. It seems crazy to me that I know that these things happen in third world countries, and yet I forget how much these girls go through. The fact that a packet of pads is such a gift and a luxury makes me want to just do something to help. No girl should ever have to choose her period over her education, no matter where she is from.

This is such an important story to tell as now, faced with so much evidence, it becomes harder and harder for the non-believers and the government to dismiss the kidnappings as a hoax. The survivor stories that helped shape this book showcase how strong these young women were; experiencing tragedy no human being should ever have to deal with. The writing is so engaging and I flew through this story in one day because I just had to keep reading to find out more. The injustices and human rights violations that Boko Haram caused are sickening and I am so grateful to have been able to read this book and know more about a global event that I should have been aware of before.

I would recommend this book to everyone. This book is able to put white middle class American privilege into perspective and as a white middle class American I was able to read about an event that we should have discussed in history class. While American politics is always being discussed in school, there are real events happening all over the world that deserve as much recognition. While reading this book I couldn’t help but think that if it didn’t tell me the date, I would think it took place 100 years ago; because it seems crazy that terror like this could still be happening in present day. Terrorist attacks and kidnappings like this are happening now though, and YA books like this need to be read as much as my favorite Morgan Matson and Kasie West books.  

Reviewed by Ilona K., Teen Board Member on September 12, 2018

Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree
written by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani with an afterword by Viviana Mazza