Under the Udala Trees

English language

Published March 15, 2015

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5 stars (2 reviews)

Inspired by Nigeria's folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees is a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.

Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls. When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie.

As Edwidge Danticat has made personal the legacy of Haiti's political coming of age, Okparanta's Under the Udala Trees uses one woman's lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle toward selfhood. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of …

1 edition

A powerful, and ultimately hopeful, novel

4 stars

Under The Udala Trees is set in Nigeria and opens at the beginning of the Biafran War when Ijeoma is a young girl in a comfortably off middle class household. After her father, Uzo, is killed in a bombing raid, her family status crashes and her grieving mother, Adaora, sends Ijeoma to live as a housegirl in a neighbouring town. Alone and isolated, Ijeoma makes friends with an orphan, Amina, and begins to learn about the restrictive conservative lifestyle insisted upon within her country. It is seen as almost unthinkable that an Igbo girl could be friends with a Hausa girl. When their friendship deepens into love and they are discovered, the two are swiftly torn apart.

Ijeoma's mother has embraced fervent religion as a way to cope with her grief. Her insistence on homosexuality being 'an abomination' leads to one of the most interesting sections of Under The Udala …