Edna O’Brien’s fictional reimagining of the 276 Boko Haram girls who were abducted in Nigeria in 2014 was always going to be immensely difficult to review, because it’s a “history” so devastating, but so recent, that it feels like a review of the book is tethered to the experiences within it – especially when more than 100 girls are still missing.
What I can say confidently is this: O’Brien wrote a novel which is both vulnerable and empathetic, such that it is a horrifying book that you have to read anyway. She has used a poetic, character-centric writing style to tell extreme sexual and physical violence in a sensitive way, but without sparing the details of the reality for so many children.
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