Review: Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Baobab Tree.jpgOn April 14, 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls. Some managed to escape. Many are still missing.

A new pair of shoes, a university degree, a husband—these are the things that a girl dreams of in a Nigerian village. A girl who works hard in school and to help her family. A girl with a future as bright as live coals in the dark. 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. Even if the voices on Papa’s radio tell more fearful news than tales to tell by moonlight.

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.


I remember when I first heard the news about the 276 girls who were kidnapped from a boarding school in Nigeria by the terrorist group, Boko Haram. That was the first time that I heard about Boko Haram. I didn’t understand their mission, not because it was complex but simply because it doesn’t make sense. My heart broke for those young ladies. I hoped that they would be quickly rescued/ released but months went by and then years. I find myself thinking about the girls time after time. This book has given me insight to what happened to those girls whose youth, innocence and dreams were stolen that fateful night in April.


The story begins by showing us Ya Ta’s life before Boko Haram. She was a young girl full of dreams. A regular teen tackling her first years of periods, having crushes on boys, working hard at school and dreaming of going to the university. I read about her interactions with friends and family with trepidation knowing that their lives were about to change.

Captivity by Boko Haram was an absolute nightmare. The girls endured rape, slavery, forced conversion to Islam, threats, intimidation and all kinds of abuse. The author tried to bring different aspects of the life the girls led. I think what caught me by surprise were the girls who adapted to the life of the militia and even became jihadist, some ended up being suicide bombers. I recently did a little research about the matter and it is sadly true. Some of the people held by Boko Haram ended up joining the group and their ‘mission’.

This was an emotional read. The fact that the story is inspired by true events made it a difficult read. I went online and found out that 5 years later, over 100 girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014, are still missing. It is devastating to think that such incidents do take place in our world today. I can’t imagine the pain and anguish that the girls and their families have had to endure all these years.

The book ends with an afterword by Viviana Mazza which details the real-life stories of survivors. Each story broke my heart all over again. Why do innocent people have to suffer because of the selfish ambitions of some psychotic/extremist groups? I look forward to a world without terrorists. Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, Boko Haram, whatever name they use, I hope that one day they will stop bringing  pain and suffering to the world. I definitely recommend this book.

Photos of the #Bring Back Our Girls protest that took place worldwide.



20 thoughts on “Review: Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

  1. Wow beautifully said… I wish peace would prevail soon. We live in too much of a turmoil. Never understood how people are okay with torturing or killing others

    1. I also don’t understand why humans do such things. Terrorists using religion as guise makes it even worse. Thanks Shalini ❤

  2. I remember when this story came out, heartbreaking! What a wonderful review Diana ❤

  3. Beautiful review, Diana. I appreciate the update, too, because I was about to look it up. It seems like some of the girls were brainwashed by the group to join them. It’s all so heartbreaking. Thank you for putting this book on my radar.

    1. So true, Jennifer. Some got married to the Jihadist and were eventually brainwashed to join their mission. Its devastating. I was surprised when I read the update on the story. Its crazy that there are still over 100 girls whose whereabouts are unknown.

      Thanks Jennifer.

  4. I remember this story when the news story broke across the news. I don’t know if I could read the book, I could only imagine what those girls went through and their families, friends, neighbours teachers. This affected and continues to affect so many people even today, there are somethings that I do not think you can ever get over. We can only pray for the girls and their familes, for those who are still lost and for those who have been found.

    1. I agree Celly. We can only pray for all those who were touched by this tragedy. Its so unfortunate that those girls went through this. Those men were devils to have out them through it.

    1. It is both those things, sad and important. I still can’t believe that the events actually happened in real life. So heartbreaking.

    1. Thanks Norrie. I heard about a release a while back but didn’t know that only a section of the girls had been let go. Truly sad.

  5. What a beautiful review Diana. I remember hearing about those girls and had no idea that 100 or more are still missing. I definitely want to read this book, just to educate myself more about this event. I know it will be heart breaking. Thanks for sharing this book Diana.

    1. I am with you on the reason to read this book. I knew it would be very heavy but I also wanted to know more about the event since I had only heard about in the news. Yeah, it is sad that 100 girls are still missing. Some are suspected to be dead, others to have joined the jihadist and therefore refuse to be rescued while others might still be held by the terrorist since they are still using them to engage the government in negotiations. Truly heartbreaking.

      Thanks Carla.

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