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Girl

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,654 ratings  ·  238 reviews
Girl , Edna O'Brien's hotly anticipated new novel, envisages the lives of the Boko Haram girls in a masterpiece of violence and tenderness.

I was a girl once, but not anymore.

So begins Girl, Edna O'Brien's harrowing portrayal of the young women abducted by Boko Haram. Set in the deep countryside of northeast Nigeria, this is a brutal story of incarceration, horror, and
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Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published September 5th 2019)
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Barbara It's fiction. Fiction based on real events but fiction none the less. The author chooses her topic - the topic doesn't choose its author. And Edna O'B…moreIt's fiction. Fiction based on real events but fiction none the less. The author chooses her topic - the topic doesn't choose its author. And Edna O'B knows plenty about the abuse and control of women and has written about the topic many times. If we start to say that only young black women can write about young black women, where does that eventually take us? To more constraints on what women can and can't do and there's more than enough of them out there already.
If people only wrote what they knew personally, the bookshelves would be poorer for it. (less)

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Elyse  Walters
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“For mothers and daughters of northeast Nigeria”

“I WAS A GIRL ONCE, but not anymore. I smell. Blood dried and crusted all over me, and my wrapper in sheds. My insides, a morass. Hurtled through this forest that I saw, that first awful night, when I and my friends were snatched from the school”.

....”he began cursing and taunting us, calling us names, saying we were slats, prostitutes, that we should be married soon we would”.

Forced to kneel under a big tree to pray - from the Qur’an- under it
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Jenna
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
On 14 April, 2014, 276 young girls were abducted from their school by the extremist terrorist organisation Boko Haram. The news horrified the world and yet the international community did little to help these girls.

The author of Girl travelled to Nigeria where she met some of the survivors, those who managed against all odds to escape. This novel is based on their accumulative experiences, combining them into the fictional character Maryam. Through her eyes we witness the horrific things that
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Paltia
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it
A story of one girl’s struggle, against all odds, to survive. Many of the details prove sickening. Even when she finds reasons to believe there are far too few people to embrace and welcome her home. A cruel and occasionally tender story of what it means to be forever on your own in a tyrannical world.
Ella
~3.5-ish Oh boy, this is going to be rougher than I'd like:

GIRL is one story created from the stories of many, and it is fiction. It feels important to state that because it would be weird to think Edna O'Brien, an old Irish lady -- and one of the greatest writers around, especially in the world of girls/women being shat upon -- wrote a nonfiction account. Instead, she fictionalizes the true story of the girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram from the Chibok School in Borno (Nigeria.) Over 275
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Krista
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, 2019
I was a girl once, but not any more. I smell. Blood dried and crusted all over me, and my wrapper in shreds. My insides, a morass. Hurtled through this forest that I saw, that first awful night, when I and my friends were snatched from the school.

On the night of April 14–15, 2014, 276female students were kidnapped from a government school in the town ofChiboki, Nigeria by the Islamic terrorist groupBoko Haram (and as of today, 112 of these stolen girls are still missing). Having seen an
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Mandy
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
The trouble with this novel is that although its intentions are admirable it doesn’t quite manage to make the protagonist come alive as a fully-fledged character. It was always going to be difficult for O’Brien to get inside the thoughts and emotions of a traumatised Nigerian teenager, and up to a point she does a good job, but for much of the book Maryam sounds too much like a western girl whose vocabulary is English (tittle-tattle) and too advanced for her age (morass). The book is clearly ...more
Jonathan Pool
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Synopsis

“This land that is called Nigeria must be rid of the infidels and unbelievers”(12)

The horror of existence inside a Jas camp is laid before the reader in stark, no holds, descriptive terms. There's no ambiguity in the first third of this book which describes brutality and barbarism happening in the 21st century that's straight out of the worst excesses of the Middle Ages, and more recently out of Rwanda. The hideous wrongs perpetrated are then compounded by the suspicion and superstition
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Julie Christine
This is as harrowing and haunting a book I have read since 2009 and Uwem Akpan's short story collection Say You're One of Them, set throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Edna O'Brien's Girl is the nominally fictional horror story of young girls enslaved by Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist group that still holds sway in northeastern Nigeria.

In language spare and forthright, O'Brien writes of Maryam, a schoolgirl taken hostage, repeatedly raped and tortured, and forced into marriage by a gang of young
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Moore
Jul 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
There are some good things to say about this - mainly, that it reminds us how extraordinary it is that Boko Haram could have kidnapped those girls, children....and quietly over a couple of years, a hundred or so have been returned - from what unimaginable experience the mind retreats from thinking, and after so much silence....... here is a novel, a version of a story, many elements of which come directly from speaking to Nigerians. So, that’s a thing.

And yet, I think - some questions are to be
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Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...
This book's opening is so powerful and strong that I almost feel like a review is unnecessary.

“I was a girl once, but not anymore. I smell. Blood dried and crusted all over me, and my wrapper in sheds. My insides, a morass. Hurtled through this forest that I saw, that first awful night, when I and my friends were snatched from the school”.

On 14 April, 2014, 276 young girls were abducted from their school by Boko Haram, 112 of them are still missing. And, although the news was seen on every media
...more
Jill
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“I was a girl once, but not any more. I smell. Blood dried and crusted all over me, and my wrapper in shreds.”

So begins Girl, the story of our narrator, Maryam, who was abducted and raped by Boko Haram. Edna O’Brien’s goal isn’t to educate us about the ignoble history and deeds of this terrorist group or its effect on Nigerian life. There are other books that serve that purpose. It is her aim to present one girl—who could be any girl who is violated, deprived of her voice and her future, and
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Shomeret
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have had some of the same thoughts that others have had that this story might be better told by an African woman author. It might feel more authentic. Yet OTOH, Edna O'Brien did go to Nigeria to interview Boko Haram kidnap victims. I did not detect any inauthenticity. I checked out the deity Doondari mentioned in this book and I discovered that Doondari was a Fulani creator god in Northern Nigeria. So that seemed like a valid detail.

I saw a review here on GR that complained that the
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Lark Benobi
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Remarkable for the attempt as much as for the execution. May we all be this clear-sighted and confident about our work when we're in our eighties.
Anne Goodwin
The girls are awoken in the night by men claiming to be soldiers sent to protect them from insurgents. They willingly flee the safety of their school, only to find themselves locked into a nightmare, deep in the forest of northern Nigeria as slaves of Boko Haram. Our guide through this hellish territory is gang raped, forced to learn the suras in a language she barely understands and worked until she’s dead on her feet. She finds some respite in a forced marriage to a young man who has ...more
Dervla
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While these are stories that need heard, I don’t really think a white Irish woman is the person to tell them.
rachy
Oct 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Edna O’Brien’s ’Girl’ tells the story of Maryam, one of the school girls abducted by Boko Haram, beginning with her abduction, through her ordeal, all the way through to her eventual escape and the new life she must forge still marked by the horrors she experienced, both internally and by the community around her.

I know there’s been plenty of talk around this novel, about if Edna O’Brien was the right person to try and tell this story and I’m honestly not sure that’s the right discussion to be
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Lisa
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: c21st, ireland, 19review
We had heard of them and their brute ways, but until you know something you do not know it. (Girl, by Edna O'Brien, p.85)

It was the kidnapping of the schoolgirls by the Nigerian Jihadist group Boko Haram that first made me disdain #Hashtag campaigns as useless.

The #BringBackOurGirls campaign flourished worldwide, with no less a celebrity that Michelle Obama brandishing her placard — yet it seems to have achieved nothing much at all except that the Nigerian government has been shamed into paying
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Bonnie Brody
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a stunning novel; powerful, horrific, and poignant.

Maryam is a schoolgirl in Nigeria when she and her classmates are abducted by the Boko Haram, a terrorist jihadi group that operated for many years in Nigeria and other abutting nations. The Boko Haram still exists but is not as large or active a group as it once was. The girls are placed on trucks and taken at gunpoint deep into the jungle to the soldiers' camp. There, they are treated brutally and violently, starved and made into
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Maureen
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was so well written; it gutted me. It entered my consciousness in a way I was not expecting or prepared for, and I’m not sure I would have read it knowing the impact it would have on me. I used to tell my 7th grade students that reading good literature helps us grow in our humanity and makes us better people, but this book led to despair for me - and nightmares , which makes me sound so pathetic because, of course, girls and women have and continue to experience this, and I’m cowering ...more
Abby
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book was a gift - and probably not one I would have chosen for myself because the idea of a book written by a white Irish woman about a teenage Nigerian girl taken by Boko Haram is pretty messed up. Nothing in that sentiment has changed for me now that I finished it.

Having read it, it is certainly well written but it lacks cohesion and a real feel of narration. I guess it was hard for the writer to be able to authentically speak this story and that comes across in the story’s shallowness.
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Toni
Nov 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Despite the excellent narration, the book barely kept my attention. I’ll refrain from a full review until I try it again on paper. Perhaps, it will be more compelling if I read it.
Patrick O'Donoghue
‘Girl’ is a fictional account of Maryam, who is kidnapped from her school by Boko Haram, taken to a remote camp in the jungle along with her school friends, and subjected to all the horrors you can imagine. O’Brien undertook research trips to Nigeria, spoke to trauma experts, UN workers, and girls who had themselves been captured by Boko Haram and had managed to escape. But what O’Brien learned was that even when the schoolgirls managed to escape from their kidnappers, they could never truly be ...more
Christina Houen
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I would give it 5 stars, were it not for the annoying tense changes, which I can't see any literary reason for. Other than that, it is a brilliant, daring, courageous book. Here is my report on it, from my blog, https:memoryandyou.org:

There is a lovely biographical report in The Observer by Sean O’Hagan on Edna O’Brien’s 2019 novel, Girl. It is an excellent article because it gives a good overview of O’Brien’s life and writing, her passions, and her frailties. It is remarkable, not only that a
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Laura Newsholme
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really powerful and harrowing read focusing on a girl abducted by Boko Haram. Detailing the capture and treatment of girls by the terrorists, this is clearly difficult to read in terms of content, so I really appreciated the matter of fact tone which gave a bit of much needed distance from the horror. Interesting too was the exploration of the aftermath - the treatment of these girls as they tried to return to their families was incredibly upsetting. My primary concern however, was ...more
Margaret
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brilliant. I read both the book and listened to the audio version. The audio lends a Nigerian voice, giving local colour, which I found the richer for it.

Edna O'Brien felt deeply on learning in a fleeting news item of a young Nigerian girl found brutalised, wandering delirious in a wood, carrying her starving infant child, having been kidnapped by Boko Haram, and in that moment knew she would write her story, knew that she must.

With three years of research and travel to Nigeria, O'Brien offers
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Kathryn Berla
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
My first book by Edna O'Brien and I'm amazed by her talent, and still writing at 89 years old makes her my automatic hero. She put in the work on the ground while researching this novel--3 years traveling throughout Nigeria and speaking in depth to everyone she could who had firsthand knowledge of the events, including victims, local doctors and psychiatrists, trauma specialists, NGO workers, residents of the affected local communities. So in this way, I feel she's beyond the controversy that's ...more
Mollie
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
As the first book I read in 2020, I had high expectations and Girl did not disappoint. The kidnapping of the Chibok girls in Nigeria took over the news in 2014 and since have largely fallen off the public radar. Girl does a good job of revisiting the experience of these girls and reminding us that the violence and trauma didn't end when the young women were rescued, and often the violence perpetrated by the family members and communities retraumatized these survivors. This story is quite ...more
Susan
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jamie
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
It is hard to imagine the danger that women still live in. The women that O’Brien writes about are challenged daily for food, clothing, shelter. They struggle to keep themselves and their children safe.
Barbara
Edna O’Brien is one of Ireland’s most famous living authors and one of the most readable. I heard her on the radio a few weeks ago talking about her latest book and, like many, I wondered how it was possible that a woman in her 80’s had decided to go off to Nigeria and research (in great depth) the stories of the young Christian schoolgirls who were captured by Boko Haram back in 2014. I wondered, but I didn’t think she had no right to do it. I just hoped that when I’m her age I’ll have the guts ...more
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Edna O’Brien (b. 1930), an award-winning Irish author of novels, plays, and short stories, has been hailed as one of the greatest chroniclers of the female experience in the twentieth century. She is the 2011 recipient of the Frank O’Connor Prize, awarded for her short story collection Saints and Sinners. She has also received, among other honors, the Irish PEN Award for Literature, the Ulysses ...more
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