Welcome back to book review session of the blog! I hope you have been keeping up with the #ReadingChallenge? These reviews will be published weekly now because I’m eager to wrap up the challenge, but I do post other books that I’m reading on Instagram, so you should definitely check out @lipglossmaffia for more book recommendations and reviews. I have also started a virtual bookclub on Whatsapp, if you would like to join, just send me an email with your phone number at firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, if you would like to keep up with the challenge, here is the 2017 reading challenge.
For my seventeenth pick, I chose…
*A Book From A Contemporary African Writer
Title: Under The Udala Trees
My Ratings: 4.5 out of 5 stars
BLURB: Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees is a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.
Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls.
When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie.
As Edwidge Danticat has made personal the legacy of Haiti’s political coming of age, Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees uses one woman’s lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle toward selfhood. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope — a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.
This book NEEDED to be written! After I finished the book, I wanted to give the writer a hug and an award for speaking out. This is a contemporary issue written by a contemporary individual.
“Sometimes I think back to the year 1970 – the year the lessons began – and it feels like I’m reliving it all over again in my mind: sitting rigidly at the kitchen table with Mama, or in the parlor, my heart racing inside me, my mind struggling to digest the verses, turning them inside out and upside down and sideways, trying hard to understand.” p. 59
I am never going to understand how people can believe that LGBTQ folks choose to be different than the norm. Who would choose to go through all that pain and agony? Okparanta’s tale is an excellent example of why such sexual desires cannot be a lifestyle choice. Choice has nothing to do with it.
This story is very compelling. Ijeoma, who is a child when her father dies in the Biafran War in Nigeria, has a difficult life. Matter of fact, most of the characters in this book have hard lives. Nigeria has had plenty of problems over the years. However, this novel is not just about hard lives. It is about the love that parents have for their children, it is about how to reconcile what you are taught with what your life is really like and it is about change, the kind of change you can’t control.
For me, Chinelo Okparanta made her characters real and helped me understand how difficult life can be under the conditions in Nigeria. When the book ended, I just hoped that the characters’ world would become a better place.
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This novel follows Ijeoma’s story, a young woman who comes of age after the bloody Nigerian civil war of the late 1960s. I'm giving it a solid 4.5 stars. It opens as a gripping historical fiction, but soon the political landscape fades to the background and the narrative shifts to Ijeoma’s life and the hardships she will endure as a lesbian woman in country that criminalizes homosexual relationships. The novel as a whole is very accessible, an easy read with language that occasionally gives way to artistic trimmings but remains really honest in its narration. “Under the Udala Trees” is beautifully and boldly lends its voice to Nigeria’s LGBT community. My 2 cents? Representation matters. That is why I feel novels like this one must be written and read widely. Marginalized voices must be loud and unafraid in their proclamation to be accepted. I recommend this book to everyone😊 ~ ~ ~ ~ #UnderTheUdalaTrees #ChineloOkparanta #NigerianLiterature #AfricanLiterature #ReadWomen2017 #ReadingIsAwesome #Bibliophile #BookLover #Bookstagrammer #Bookstagram
I recommend this novel to anyone interested in other parts of our world, to those who are concerned for human rights everywhere and to readers who want to experience well-written, interesting books.
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