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Beneath the Tamarind Tree: A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Schoolgirls of Boko Haram

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,242 ratings  ·  199 reviews
“It is no accident that the places in the world where we see the most instability are those in which the rights of women and girls are denied. Isha Sesay’s indispensable and gripping account of the brutal abduction of Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram terrorists provides a stark reminder of the great unfinished business of the 21st century: equality for girls and women ar ...more
Published July 9th 2019 by HarperAudio
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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,242 ratings  ·  199 reviews

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Start your review of Beneath the Tamarind Tree: A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Schoolgirls of Boko Haram
Diane S ☔
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
Chibok, a small town in Nigeria is a town of hardworking men and women. Families that are poor in economy but rich in love. Where mothers pressure the fathers into allowing their daughters an education at great sacrifice to their family's income. They pin great hopes on their daughters education and their futures, a future that will not only benefit the girls but their families. Hopes of which their daughters are well aware. So it is at school the girls are, studying dilegently, homesick or not ...more
Karla Strand
This is the first book-length account of the Boko Haram kidnapping of over 250 Chibok schoolgirls. This was the kidnapping that sparked the Bring Back Our Girls movement. I was really intrigued to read this book and learn more about this tragic and terrifying event. I did appreciate the information about what happened, which Sesay cobbled together from interviews of a few of the girls and their families, but I wanted more of this information. Scattered throughout stories of the girls, Sesay shar ...more
Jul 31, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An important story poorly told.

This book is an opportunity lost. Sesay spends far too much time focused on herself. She brags about her reporting skills, and she discusses her own guilt, upbringing, education, and family far too much. This story is not about her. At one point she says "my eyes flashed." She also talks about the determined set of her chin when she confronts (and defeats, according to her) Nigerian politicians. These are not phrases one can use to describe oneself.
The chapters ab
Carmel Hanes
Oct 28, 2019 rated it liked it
As the title indicates, this is the story about the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria in 2014. It is written by a journalist who followed the story as it unfolded, and who met with some of the first girls who escaped or were released. The narrative appears to provide a synopsis of what took place, as shared by a few of those kidnapped. As such, it centers on the personal stories of a handful of the girls involved. This gives the reader a close-up view of the incident and what life was ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to HarperCollins for the ARC at BEA 2019!

I really enjoyed this book. Sesay tells us the story of the over 200 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 in powerful detail, and gives us the appropriate context to understand how Boko Haram rose to power in Northeast Nigeria, as well as why the corrupt Nigerian central government failed to do anything for years. Sesay also challenges us with some cutting points about the failure of the world to stand up for the girls; how we moved on so quickly
I'm embarrassed at how little i knew about this story. When, of 276 girls abducted from their school in the small Nigerian town of Chibok in 2014, to this day, over five years later, more than half have not returned, i should have been more aware. That is a tragedy of global proportions which deserves a much more prominent place in the spotlights. Mind you, i'm not (just) blaming the media for that. Although perhaps not enough, it has been featured in the news and it has been on my radar as well ...more
Carla Johnson-Hicks
Remember the tag #BringBackOurGirls? Do you remember hearing and seeing in the news the story of the 270 Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram several years ago? As news stories do, this event eventually was replaced by other stories, which is so sad because 112 of these girls are still missing. On April 14, 2014, terrorists from the Islamic group Boko Haram invaded the small town of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria. There, they found 276 girls in the dorms at the Government Girls ...more
2019 - bk 231. I started this book at 11:00 p.m. thinking I'd read one chapter, relax, then go to bed. Ha! I won't say when I went to bed - but my eyes are bleary as I type this. The story of the girls of Chibook School was well written, focusing on the girls who had escaped and those who had been released. The author, Isha Sesay, did an excellent job of tracing the online movement to keep the pressure on, the story of indifference, and previous abductions/attacks on schools. At the same time sh ...more
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction

The parts of this that focus on the experience of the Chibok girls is powerful and compelling, but the memoir sections about the author and the parts about the author's struggle to get the story for CNN were not as interesting to me.
Krutika Puranik
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beneath The Tamarind Tree #bookrecommendation

Isha Sesay is an award winning journalist who constantly worked on the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping incident. Having worked for the CNN for over a decade, Isha has been covering this case since the very beginning. Isha was born in Seirra Leone to well educated parents who pushed her towards knowledge. Her mother who later became her pillar of support always encouraged her to stand by her Chibok sisters. This book is the real take on what actually ha
Erika Yorita
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A harrowing account by brave journalist Isha Sesay of her dangerous experiences tracking the young women abducted by the hardcore jihadist Boko Haram members in Nigeria. The interviews with the schoolgirls, fraught with terrifying remembrances of the brutality and psychological punishment they endured, will open the readers’ eyes to the frightening reality women suffer daily throughout places where terrorists operate. Ms. Sesay’s indefatigable work on behalf of these Boko Haram girls, as they be ...more
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
WOW! What an amazing story. Well written and truly heartbreaking. This is a story that must be told and everyone should know what happened to these young women! My heart goes out to them and their families.
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: social-injustice
An unimaginable, agonizing story for the Chibok girls and their families. I’m so glad the author shared the story of these girls so that more people can hear it. However the author is a journalist, not a novelist, and the writing was somewhat dry and too detached for such an emotional saga.
Warren Mcpherson
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable story, told with a narrative style that struggles to be more relatable to Americans.
Criticism is legitimate, but the choices made by the author are also legitimate, they highlight the challenges we face in understanding the very different situations faced by people in distant parts of the world. The story is very important as similar events play out more often than one might expect. The details are shooking.
The role played by forgiveness turns out to be one of the more rema
Westminster Library
Beneath the Tamarind Tree is a riveting account of the abduction of the schoolgirls from the small town Chibok, Nigeria. Wonderfully written, suspenseful and an inspirational fight for women's equality for the right to education. There is so much we as Americans take for granted and I appreciated learning about these remote parts of the world. These girls are amazingly brave as they held onto their faith and hope that one day they would be free and reunited with their families. As of today, ther ...more
Kimber Burgess
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-book-list
The true story behind the book is amazing. Unfortunately the author kept cutting from the true story to tell her own story which was an irrelevant distraction. Not the best writing but I am glad I learned more about what happened in Chibok and the faith and tenacity of these girls.
Aimee Grabski
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a very insightful but heartbreaking book. I hope that one day all the Chibok girls will be brought home. (I received this book free as an advance reader copy).
Jul 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting to get update on these young women, not all of whom have been returned. Dragged some at times
Aimee Dars
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, non-fiction
Sesay, Isha - Beneath the Tamarind Tree

On April 14, 2014, terrorists from the Islamic group Boko Haram invaded the small town of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria. There, they found 276 girls in the dorms at the Government Girls Secondary School who were inadequately guarded. Boko Haram spoke out against Western education, education for girls, and democracy, and the Chibok school wasn’t the first they’d targeted, but the poor students there were determined to climb out of the poverty of the region not just for themselves but for their f
Feisty Harriet
This is a 5-star story with a delivery that didn't quite jive with me. Sesay is a CNN corespondent and I am impressed by her dedication to a heartbreaking story that quickly got buried in and forgotten by the international media in the clustercuss that was the 2016 U.S. election. Sesay has spelled out so many political and religious clashes in the Chibok region of northern Nigeria, militant Islam extremists vs pretty much everybody else, leftover political issues from the British colonial rule, ...more
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Think back several years ago and you will recall hearing and seeing in the news the horrific story of the Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram. For a time the hashtag #Bringbackourgirls circulated on social media. As news stories do, this event eventually was replaced by other stories. The recently published book Beneath the Tamarind Tree: A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost School Girls of Boko Haram by Isha Sesay returns to this heart-wrenching story.

Isha Sesay is unique
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Go under that tree!. . .They'd arrived at a Boko Haram Camp . . . The hundreds of girls moved en-masse for protection and stood weeping at the foot of the [tamarind] tree . . . Do you know why you are here? . . . It is in your best interests to choose our religion . . . Even if you refuse to accept our religion, you must wear the hijab."

April 14, 2014 dawned like any other in the Local Government Area of Borno State, Nigeria known as Chibok. The Area is located in northern Nigeria and has its h
Oh, how disappointing.

This is an account of the kidnapping of over 250 girls, known as The Lost Girls. In April, 2014 an Islamic militants group, known as Boko Haram, entered the town of Chibok, Nigeria, and abducted the girls from their
boarding school. Boko Haram made sure the world knew why-Women Do Not Need Education. This story needed to be published, many of these girls are still being held, the world cannot just forget about them.

It is unfortuente that the author decided her story, for som
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Powerful! I don't have any other words to describe this book. I was ignorant to both the regime of Boko Haram and to the experiences faced by the captured Chibok teenagers.

I knew Boko Haram were a Black terrorist organization. I did not know they disapproved of Western education and of Christianity. This knowledge helps to understand their motives, though still cruel and violent.

Being a Black American, my main reference point were those similar to my ancestors. I imagined these girls were taken
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Even if it takes twenty years of my life, I am ready to give it to Chibok because if I give up of the Chibok girls, it means I have given up on the little girl who is crying to be educated" - Aisha Yesufu from Bring Back Our Girls

A must read for everyone. A riveting book that makes you feeling incredibly uncomfortable about the state of the world we live in today. I'm in awe of the unsung heroes who continue to fight endlessly and tirelessly for women's right and safety all over the world. You
Bondi Bilala
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I appreciate Isha humanizing the Chibok girls by putting a face to them and telling their story. It’s so easy for even an indigene of Nigeria to see them as abstract. However, I could have done without the parts of Isha’s story as it began to look like an autobiography caught in the middle of the chibok story.

Once again, the incompetence and sometimes heartless response of the Nigerian government was brought to light. One can only wonder what would have been of the girls without internal and ex
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Isha Sesay does a wonderful job explaining how this happened and the history of the climate that created this situation, that was just so appalling and foregin to me as an American. Extremely insightful but at times repetitive. I would've also appreciated less of her emotions documented and more on the actual girls she spoke with documented. More information on the remaining missing girls and what is being done to locate them would have been appropriate, although I do realize it may not be avail ...more
Nov 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I appreciated the author’s insight and information on the Chibok girls—much more than any news story put out there. I’m not sure why her personal story was included. I didn’t think it had a place in this book. Her story is interesting, but should be in a separate book. Also, I found myself so annoyed with the author because it just seemed she disrespected the privacy and wishes of the girls.
Julie Cave
Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Ever since the 2014 kidnapping of several hundred schoolgirls by Boko Haram in Nigeria I've wanted to know about the incident and those who later escaped or were released. This book answered many of my questions and offered insights as to why the Nigerian government were unsuccessful in rescuing the 112 remaining girls who are still in captivity as of this date. The author is a CNN journalist and did a fine job retelling the story, mostly based on interviews with a few of the young women who wer ...more
Cindy Cox
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A heart-breaking story. I remember the flurry of social media to #bringbackourgirls, but as author points out, we all moved on. The book focuses primarily on 21 girls released by Boko Haram after 2 years. Sadly, at the time of this book there are still 112 missing girls.
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Isha Sesay is an award-winning journalist who led the CNN team that won a 2014 Peabody Award for coverage of the missing Chibok girls. She hosted CNN NewsCenter, headed the network’s Africa reporting for ten years, and received a Gracie Award for Outstanding Anchor for her coverage of the Chibok girls’ story. She is the founder of W.E. (Women Everywhere) Can Lead, a nonprofit organization dedicate ...more

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