In Beneath the Tamarind Tree, Sesay combines the released Chibok girls' stories with her own journalistic experiences to powerful effect. Sesay is a briskly opinionated writer, and from the first chapters Beneath the Tamarind Tree presents a forceful combination of reportage and social analysis ... Where Beneath the Tamarind Tree sets itself apart is in its exploration of the Nigerian government and the international media's complicity in silencing the Chibok girls' voices, and those of their parents and of the Nigerian activists fighting for their release.
In Beneath the Tamarind Tree, the award-winning CNN journalist Isha Sesay offers the most intimate portrait yet of what happened to the Chibok girls between abduction and rescue ... The book’s most gripping sections relate the hardships the girls endured ... Sesay’s own odyssey, though somewhat self-congratulatory, is also riveting—a primer on the hazards and challenges of reporting in a country embroiled in insurrection, with a government suspicious of aggressive media coverage. The writing in Beneath the Tamarind Tree occasionally veers toward the melodramatic. But Sesay has done yeoman work in earning the trust of the girls, enabling her to recount their experiences with rare empathy.
The most arresting chapters are those in which Sesay takes us to the girls. We are there, with them, on that hot April night in their schoolyard ... Beneath the Tamarind Tree offers an unsatisfyingly potted history of Boko Haram. It doesn’t give you a textured view of how the group gained a foothold, or how it was persuaded to release half the kidnapped girls. The book paints a drive-by picture of Chibok. Far too much effort is put into explaining why this story matters. This is a common pitfall for authors who are trying to chronicle the lives of others to Americans, and it’s unfortunate ... There is still another to be told about the kidnapping of the Chibok girls. That story should be told by a Chibok girl.
Sesay helpfully examines the confluence of social factors that gave rise to the extremist group, including the struggles between Muslims in the north and Christians in southern Nigeria that are a legacy of British colonial rule. Her tenacious reporting since the Chibok abductions has helped keep up pressure on the government of Nigeria to find the missing girls ... Readers will be moved and inspired by her passionate advocacy.
In enthralling and unnerving passages that vary from an incisive history of Boko Haram to scenes that could be torn from a demented terrorist thriller to moments of heart-wrenching emotion, Sesay fully recounts each stage of the ordeal ... Peabody Award–winning Sesay’s narrative is not only dramatically informative, it is also brilliantly structured, commandingly eloquent, and profoundly empathic ... Sesay’s galvanizing Beneath the Tamarind Tree will recharge the global battle for women’s equality.
Sesay further sheds light on the events surrounding the rise of Boko Haram and its campaign against education, particularly women's education across the north of Nigeria, revealing the lack of reporting on African affairs beyond the continent and illuminating the role of African politics in the global arena ... Great for readers who want to learn more about African gender politics, the history of Boko Haram, and women in the media.
Sesay, who is of Sierra Leonean descent, inserts herself as not only a journalist covering this story, but also as a fellow African sister. At times, her anecdotes about her own background are distracting from the central story—the remarkable journey of these resilient, young girls. Nonetheless, Sesay does an incredible job recounting these survival tales, making sure that history will never forget what so much of the media chose not to report.
Fortunately, award-winning journalist Sesay...offers a compelling, empathetic tale that focuses on the lives of four of the Chibok girls and their immediate family members ... this fascinating and emotionally charged telling of the girls’ story...will hopefully put those still missing back into the limelight. Rich details and dedicated, courageous reporting create a powerful tale of faith, love, and loss.