September 28, 2015

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta | Book Review

Ijeoma is a young Nigerian girl, an only child, who lives with her parents in Southern Nigeria. We are introduced to her family in the time period of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war. Everything around them is crumbling down and it's not long before Ijeoma's dad dies from an air strike. Ijeoma's mom sends her off to live with her father's close friend because living conditions in Ojoto are getting worse even though Ijeoma would prefer to follow her to Aba. When they both reunite one and a half years later it's because Ijeoma has been caught doing something "abominable" with another girl, Amina. Her mother decides to nip this in the bud by conducting protracted daily Bible studies with Ijeoma, painstakingly covering the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelations, and coupling that with loud, fervent prayers, beseeching God, begging Him to banish all abominable desires from her daughter. That was many years ago. An older Ijeoma looks back on her life as she narrates this tale, taking time to describe surroundings, seasons and dreams as she lays the groundwork for this very important story.

Okparanta explores and questions the complexities of the Bible's teachings in a way that Christians are often taught not to. Her selected scriptures, especially those from the Bible book of Lot, are fitting, poignant, and thought provoking. In the telling of this tale Okparanta grabs the bull by the horns and forces you to confront this controversial issue in the hopes that you (especially her countrymen) reexamine your thoughts on the subject matter. Under the Udala Trees is shamelessly honest, a moving tale of forbidden love by the amazingly gifted and incredibly courageous Chinelo Okparanta. This is a tale well told, a job very well done. You should read this.
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READ: 
Happiness, Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta - My Thoughts

[Image via NPR]

12 comments:

  1. Excellent review Osondu. I can't wait to read this! I pre-ordered it, but its sitting in my cousin's house in Chicago while I'm in Accra smh. I'm excited for the homosexual story line. I wish more African writers wrote on LGBTQ issues, in a more contemporary (accepting) way. I quite enjoyed Okparanta's take on lesbian love in two of her stories from her short stories collection 'Happiness, Like Water'.

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    1. Thank you Darkowaa!! :) Yeahh, you should read it. And yeah, it's progressive as opposed to what we tend to see a lot of. I also enjoyed those two stories in Happiness, Like Water. Lol are you coming back to America soon or shouldn't she mail it to you or send it back with someone African style lol. I pre-ordered it on Amazon as soon as I could and on the release date it came to my house in Texas exactly as promised. America... :)

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    2. Hmm. I won't be back in America for a while lol. But my cousin will bring it to me during Christmas, so I'll wait hahaa. School is crazy right now, so it's even for my own good. What are you reading now?

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  2. I'm not reading anything right now. I'm waiting for the Caine Prize 2015 Anthology to come on Oct. 25th and also African Roar 2015. I have a lot of books saved for December though after school is closed. A lot of them are from your blog post about the books you purchased.

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    1. Ohh okay. I have the 2012 Caine Prize Anthology... but I haven't picked it up yet. meh. I hope the 2015 anthology is good! And I feel ya on December reading. School is killing my reading progress hahaa. Ayy and I look forward to reading reviews on books you found on my blog! :) :)

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    2. Lol I actually have the 2012 one too! It's here but every time I open it I just can't. I also hate the tiny print and spacing. Hopefully the 2015 one is easier to settle into. Thanks! Looking forward to your updates too!

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  3. Hey keep posting such good and meaningful articles.

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    1. Thank you very much! I'll keep doing my best. Follow us on social media and subscribe!

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  4. Now I want to read this book. It sounds forbidden. I have about it before, but the person who told me about it was a friend to the writer, so I thought the book may not really be what it it is. Because of you, I would read it and if noo sweet eh...!! You pay me back my money and my time.

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  5. Hahaha! E go sweet no worry. It is "forbidden" stuff. Thanks a lot for stopping by Madu. I hope to find time to check out more reviews. Have a great week!

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