Book Review:UNDER THE UDALA TREES by Chinelo Okparanta

under the udala trees chinelo okparanta
image via google

*THE Oprah Winfrey said, you know a book is a good book when the first few sentences captures your attention or something along those lines, so that is how I will begin this book review. Because what Oprah says, is what I will do*

First few sentences

      Midway between Old Oba-Nnewi Road and New Oba-Nnewi Road, in that general area bound by the village church and the primary school, and where Mmiri John Road drops off only to begin again stood our house in Ojoto . . . It was 1967 when the war barged in and installed itself all over the place. By 1968, the whole of Ojoto had begun pulsing with the rukus of armored cras and shelling machines, bomber planes and their loud engines sending shock waves through our ears …


Chinelo Okparanta begins the story in 1968 during the Biafra war. We are introduced to Ijeoma, the main character when she was about 8 years old, when her family was torn apart because of the war. Ijeoma went on to stay with a family friend and there met her first love. Her first love happened to be hausa, an ethnic group shunned by the igbos and not only was her first love hausa, Ijeoma’s first love was also a girl. Chinelo tells a heartbreaking story about being homesexual in Africa, Nigeria to be exact, and ethnocentrism as well as religion and its impact in Nigeria. But she also relays the message about love being the same whether its with the same sex or opposite.

My thoughts

Can I start by saying how fearless I think Chinelo Okparanta is for writing this book. This is the second book I’ve read which focused on the LGBTQ communty in Africa and I think this is so because no one wants to write about it or afraid to write about it.

When I began reading the book, I thought it was just going to be another book about the Biafra war and I was interested in seeing another writers perspective about the war. But it was very unexpected when it turned into this painful self-discovery and love story with attention to how some or most homosexuals are treated in Nigeria. I especially loved how Chinelo made Ijeoma’s love story relatable. Most of us have all fallen in love with someone we shouldn’t have, unrequitted love and sometimes settling for what society wants. I also really liked the truth in this book. How we as human beings treat people who are different from us and how some Christians act like they are God themselvs and judge people so harshly.

It took me a few chapters to adjust to Chinelo’s style of writing because at times, it appeared all over the place and she used a lot of words. But once I got used to it the reading was very easy and actually began looking forward to the way she takes her readers to 3 different time eras in once chapter.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book

Favorite quotes

” If God dishes you rice in a basket…do not wish for soup.”

“Maybe sometimes it’s worth it to go around in circles. Maybe you learn more lessons that way.”

“some people, you wonder if God was sleeping when he made them. But you, you are beautiful. God was definitely not sleeping when He made you.”

” too much ceremony has a way of taking the life, taking the joy, out of what is being celebrated.”


One thought on “Book Review:UNDER THE UDALA TREES by Chinelo Okparanta

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