The story of an American journalist’s experiences with extraordinary women in West Africa.
When Searcey was appointed West Africa bureau chief for the New York Times and moved to Dakar, Senegal, she knew there would be both personal and work-related hardships. What she didn’t fully anticipate was learning the true extent of the atrocities the women she interviewed had endured. In this revealing, sometimes heartbreaking memoir, the author shares the stories of the women she met. As she notes, these accounts never made it into the newspaper, or if they did, they didn’t receive the amount of attention they deserved because Donald Trump and the roiling political situation in the U.S. consumed most of the available space. Here are tales of violence and heroism as women and girls were kidnapped by the militant group Boko Haram, raped and/or forced to marry older militants, and ordered to serve as suicide bombers. With tremendous courage and a strong will to live, these women disobeyed orders; remarkably, they are able to talk about the many seemingly insurmountable obstacles they have faced. Searcey also discusses the more well-known Chibok girls and her attempts to interview and photograph them, which proved to be a lesson in patience and persistence. She balances her tales of work with those of being a mother and wife and the strains and struggles placed on both she and her husband as they pursued life in a foreign country. The author demonstrates her journalistic skills by providing ample pertinent details to flesh out each chapter, centered around a different interviewee. As a mother and woman, she gives an honest account of her personal experiences. The combination is powerful and moving and brings much-needed attention to the plight of these women. For further difficult yet important reading on this topic, see Wolfgang Bauer’s Stolen Girls (2017) and Helen Habila’s The Chibok Girls (2016).
Empathetic, compelling narratives from a part of the world too often overlooked.