Review: Under The Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

“Mama says that war has a way of changing people, that even a brave man occasionally loses hope, and sometimes all the pleading in the world cannot persuade him to begin hoping again.”

Genre: Fiction
Published: September 3, 2015
Pages: 328
Rate: 4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Get a copy: Text Book Centre

Goodreads Synopsis
One day in 1968, at the height of the Biafran civil war, Ijeoma’s father is killed and her world is transformed forever. Separated from her grief-stricken mother, she meets another young lost girl, Amina, and the two become inseparable. Theirs is a relationship that will shake the foundations of Ijeoma’s faith, test her resolve and flood her heart.

Inspired by her mother’s stories of war and Nigeria’s folktale traditions, Under the Udala Trees is Chinelo Okparanta’s deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.

My Take

Under The Udala Trees is a coming of age story which follows Ijeoma’s life before the war, during the war and after, while she struggles with finding herself and living her truth. I found Under The Udala Trees to be such a page turner. The book is beautifully written with so much ease it was easy to get through. Chinelo’s vivid descriptions left me feeling like I was there myself, with the characters in their homes.

The book talks about queer relationships, themes of war, domestic abuse, loss and a search of identity. I love how Chinelo ties all these together to bring out a well told story.

Chinelo Okparanta explores the rigidity of societal structures, that of religion and the African traditions. It was a perfect case of “We don’t do that” “that’s not how we were made” “Follow the Bible” and such, which was so heartbreaking to read. Not having a choice or a say to what you want or who to love and being forced to be “normal”. By the time I was through the book I was angry, angry for Ijeoma and the life she had to endure.

Another favourite thing is seeing the title being casually mentioned in the pages and seeing how it came to be. A tiny thing but it made a difference.

I loved Under The Udala Trees, a character driven book with a well told story, you can’t help but read on when you open the first page, you just want to know more. I highly recommend.

Have you read Under The Udala Trees? What did you think about it?

4 thoughts on “Review: Under The Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

  1. I loved this so much and how Okparanta voiced out the trauma’s that LGBTQ community faces in our communities. The short chapters were a delight and before I knew it, I had finished the book. Highly recommend too! This review is so punchy as well. Good job you 👍🏿

    1. Thank you. ❤️ Also yes, the short chapters had me saying one more chapter until I found myself finishing the book. I think as a continent we have a long way to go when it comes to LGBTQ

  2. This is my favorite book🥺I didn’t know my queer self needed this so much. Written so beautifully, reading this made me so happy. I wanna to tell the whole world about it. I wish all 🏳️‍🌈 would read it

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