Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree is a difficult book to discuss. It's the story of young women who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014. Our narrator, a young girl, tells the story of what life was life before the kidnapping, and what life became after she was forced to become a "wife."
This book starts out very hopeful; the girl discusses her family, her desire to get an education and how she is supported by her father to do so, and then the kidnappings happen. Reading about the girls who were forced to become Boko Haram's wives was terrible, uncomfortable and felt all too real.
This was an event I admit I didn't really follow when it was in the news, but one I feel like I have a better understanding of having read this book. There's many discussions in this book from cult mentality to rape culture, and it makes you feel a lot of anger for the women who had their lives completely stripped from them.
What's crazy about this book is that it's addictive. The writing is engaging, it's disturbing, but there is shreds of hope that the girl and reader cling to. It's frightening to think how current this event was and how aspects of this cult mentality to still exist within our world. I feel for those that suffered in this period. Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree is a powerful look at those who survived Boko Haram, and a what it means to be a survivor.
I was riveted while reading this heart-wrenching, harrowing story of a Nigerian girl kidnapped by the Boko Haram. The unnamed narrator has dreams of being the first girl in her village to earn a scholarship, go to college, become a teacher, marry the pastor’s son, and become a mom. These dreams are interrupted when she witnesses the murder of her father and most of her brothers, and she and her best friends are kidnapped by the Boko Haram (a terrorist group whose name is literally translated as “Western education is forbidden”). The very short chapters are poetic and reminiscent of a novel in verse, but actually written in prose.
The book is billed as based on the true story of the kidnapping of Chibok schoolgirls by the Boko Haram, and the afterword is a very long, non-fiction description of the actual kidnapping and some of its victims, some of whom escaped, and some of whom have never been seen again. But the story isn’t even about one of these victims, fictional or not, and I don’t understand why it is described that way.
The major drawback of this book, in my opinion, is the afterword, written by a journalist, not the author of the story. The language of the afterword is very jarring and often confusing and hard to follow, really taking away from the beautiful language of the fictional story itself. Though the information in the afterword is important, I’m not sure it should have been included as part of the Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree book. If anything, I wish it has been the Foreword instead. At least then I could have ended the book with the aftertaste of the beautiful language of the story itself.
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