“Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree,” by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, is a heart-wrenching reimagining of an innocent, bright young girl kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorist group.
The book follows the Nigerian girl, one who takes care of her family, has crushes on boys, and wishes for a better education. Unnamed throughout the book, other than the nickname her mother gave her, Ya Ta, and the name that the Boko Haram forced onto her.
With a government scholarship looming on the horizon, and the boy she likes showing signs of feeling affection for her, it seems as if life is finally looking up for the girl.
She has heard snippets on her father’s old radio about how many people the Boko Haram kill, and how many women and children are kidnapped. What the girl thought was only possible in nightmares comes true: the Boko Haram men come to her own home, kill all the men, and kidnap all the women and children.
Shocked and reeling over the death of her brothers and father, she must survive life in the middle of the forest, surrounded by real life monsters. She, along with all the other kidnapped females, are forced to follow their kidnappers’ beliefs. But deep down she knows that life in the forest isn’t right, no matter how hard the men push her to believe it. Escape is something the girl dreams of, and even though it seems impossible, it’s not, and she’ll try her hardest to be free again.
I loved that this book was told with very short chapters because it made me deeply connect with what was happening. I loved the girl, she was so strong and smart, and I admired her actions throughout the book, even when it seemed like everyone had turned against her.
My favorite part in the entire book was the afterword by Viviana Mazza. It was deeply profound, as she shared the true story of the real girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram.
“Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree” is a very different young adult book, because it doesn't focus on Western culture. It was great to actually read a book that centered on a difficult topic presented so well to a younger audience, a truthful and necessary story in today’s world.