Based on interviews with young women who were kidnapped by Boko Haram, this poignant novel by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani tells the timely story of one girl who was taken from her home in Nigeria and her harrowing fight for survival. Includes an afterword by award-winning journalist Viviana Mazza.
A new pair of shoes, a university degree, a husband—these are the things that a girl dreams of in a Nigerian village. And with a government scholarship right around the corner, everyone—her mother, her five brothers, her best friend, her teachers—can see that these dreams aren’t too far out of reach.
But the girl’s dreams turn to nightmares when her village is attacked by Boko Haram, a terrorist group, in the middle of the night. Kidnapped, she is taken with other girls and women into the forest where she is forced to follow her captors’ radical beliefs and watch as her best friend slowly accepts everything she’s been told. Still, the girl defends her existence. As impossible as escape may seem, her life—her future—is hers to fight for.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Rape, Violence
Booklist starred (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
Grades 8-12. The Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped girls from the country’s villages in the early to mid-2010s and kept them captive as slaves or wives in the forest. Based on interviews with some of the girls who were taken, this story follows one such girl in a fictionalized account of real-life events. Never named, the narrator reveals her life leading up to her capture—one marked by relatable experiences, such as harboring crushes and watching movies with friends, and a bright future—which makes the abduction all the more heart-wrenching. Nwaubani uses short chapters, ranging from a few sentences to no more than two pages, to emphasize the youth and innocence of the narrator and the terrible acts she and the other kidnapped girls must endure. It is, unsurprisingly, a difficult read that elicits great sympathy and horror, but it is a necessary story to educate readers on what can happen in the world. Nwaubani’s novel is an excellent choice for classroom reading and for those who don’t wish to turn a blind eye to injustice. A substantial afterword by journalist Viviana Mazza shares actual stories of some of the victims, along with more detailed information on the Boko Haram kidnappings. Poignant and powerful, this is a story that will be hard for any reader to forget.
Kirkus Reviews starred (June 15, 2018)
The unnamed young Nigerian narrator of this novel, with a loving family and academic aspirations, is kidnapped by Boko Haram along with many other girls and women from her village. On the day the terrorists came and destroyed her village, they murdered her father and brothers, sparing only the one brother young enough to be taught their way of life. The story chronicles her cheerful, promising life before her abduction as well as the suffering and abuse she endures after being forced to part with her dreams of getting a university scholarship, becoming a teacher, and having her own family. It traverses the girl’s life from dutiful Christian daughter and loyal friend to becoming a slave under her kidnappers’ radical rule—and pays tribute to the fortitude and grace it takes to not only survive such an ordeal, but to escape it. Nigerian author Nwaubani (I Do Not Come to You by Chance, 2009, etc.) smoothly pulls readers into this narrative. Her words paint beautiful portraits of the joy, hope, and traditions experienced by this girl, her friends, and family with the same masterful strokes as the ones depicting the dreadful agony, loss, and grief they endure. A heavy but necessary story based on the horrendous 2014 Boko Haram kidnapping of 276 Chibok girls, described in an afterword by Italian journalist Mazza. A worthy piece of work that superbly and empathetically tells a heartbreaking tale. (afterword, references, resources) (Fiction. 14-adult)
About the Author
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani is a Nigerian writer and journalist. The author of the award-winning novel I Do Not Come to You by Chance, Adaobi has had her writing featured in the New York Times, the Guardian, and the New Yorker.
Her website is www.adaobitricia.com
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