A story OF SORROW AND SURVIVAL, Based on interviews with young women kidnapped by Boko Haram, award-winning Nigerian author Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani poignantly tells the story of a girl who was living peacefully and fortunately with her family, best friend Sarah, and her small village community. The girl’s dream had always been to receive a scholarship and study in one of the prestigious boarding schools in the city and later to the university, which she luckily got, but unfortunately, her dream doesn’t see the light of the day.

It occurs when her town witnesses something unforeseen, something they’ve been hearing about from afar but never expected to see reach them. The infamous so-called Jihadists [Boko Haram] massacred their parents in their presence, invaded their village and abducted them.

From seeing her loving Papa’s throat being butchered, forcefully converting to Islam and fitting slaves, to eventually becoming the wive of the Rijale –a term used to describe Boko Haram militants– the girl endured something she had never thought of penning down in her diary.

The protagonist [Salamatu, a new name given to her after she forcefully converted to Islam] went through a lot of agonies, and I think it’s because of how clever she is, she wasn’t indoctrinated by the BH’s dogma like her best friend Sarah whom a mere love by her husband makes her forgot where they came from, how powerful love is! Sarah betrayed Salamatu by exposing her because she criticised BH’s ideology and showed how unislamic they were. Her soul confined her, the soil closed in on her in spite of its vastness, and she became perfidious. 😢

Eventually with difficulty comes ease, theirs is no more slavery, the girls escaped after the Nigerian army troops attacked their camp in Sambisa and rescued them.

The noteworthy aspect of this historical fiction is how the author distinguishes true Islam from Boko Haram’s brand of Islam in order to demonstrate how calmly the village community in Borno, northern Nigeria coexists regardless of religion or culture, which is something very common among Nigerians, especially the northerners.

As someone who’s soft-hearted, I found myself wiping tears while flipping through the pages of this book, it’s such an emotional gem.

Its amazing themes, a well-crafted plot and throughout 200 poetic-like chapters make the book a must-read for anyone who wants to feel how is it like to be abducted and lose the most beautiful and valuable people in one’s life

Umar Bn Naseer
25-05-2022.

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