3 Must-Read Real-Life Tragedy Books

Based on true stories


These books reviewed will take you on a journey of sadness and healing that the authors experienced first-hand. This week, I will be reviewing three books:

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur


You may have heard of Rupi Kaur, a Canadian poet, writer and performer. Her book of poetry and prose entitled Milk and Honey was published in 2015 and sold over a million copies, reaching #1 and spending over a year on the New York Times bestseller list. The book takes us on a journey of violence, abuse, love, loss and femininity. With different purposes served in each chapter, it deals with a different pain, healing in life and finding sweetness in the pain and healing. The book takes readers on a journey of bitter experience, and finding happiness within the pains and wraths of life     

The 25 year old author breaks her book into four parts, the hurting, the loving, the breaking and the healing. The poem depicts a dark aura where the author experiences sexual assault and the struggles of overcoming family dispute. The next section, the loving, is a more spiritually uplifting read. The uses of words are sweet and idealistic. These are the ones that remind loved ones why they are still together and find comfort in each other. They are whole, fully connecting.

The transgression returned us to a darker place in Kaur’s life. If you’ve endured an excruciating break up after a long term relationship, this section will be relatable to you. I found myself reflecting the sad events that had happened in my life over the past year, and trying to measure them up to the sadness she describes. The last section of Milk and Honey is accomplished by empowering women to cuddle themselves, regardless of what mayhem they go through in life.

Her writing is in detail, she expresses the different emotions of rage, happiness and longing in her book. It took me no more than a day to read the book, even though I spent the day processing her use of words.  The book is worth a read and I give it 4 stars.


The Chibok Girls by Helon Habila


This book recalls the events that happened on April 14, 2014, when 276 girls form the Chibok Secondary School in Northern Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram, the world’s deadliest terrorist group. The author of The Chibok Girls, Helon Habila, grew up in Northern Nigeria and was able to gain access to the families of the kidnapped girls. The novelist tells the stories of the girls, their families and what they went through. She captured the stories and sides that the media and journalists did not reveal to the rest of the world. Although 21 girls were released, most of them were never seen again. He also offers a revealing insight into how radicalism can take hold in a country in which corruption is rife, government dysfunctional and young people alienated.

This book is undoubtedly one to read if you want to experience what happened during the Boko Haram attack. It explains what the families had to go through and how they felt when the ordeal took place. This is a powerful book and also educates on some of the things going on in Nigeria, between government and the people. I give it 4 stars.


Rape: A South African Nightmare by Pumla Gqola


This book unpacks South Africa’s various patterns of rape amongst women and children, the connections between rape culture and the shocking syndrome that characterises public reactions towards rape. It explains rape culture, masculinity and the mythologised violence placed in genealogy with colonialism, slavery and apartheid in South Africa. The author, Pumla Dino Gqola, dissects the reasons behind rape and how most people still blame the victim for the suffering and pain that she goes through. Some aspects of the Jacob Zuma sexual harassment case were also discussed in the book, and how he was able to overcome that without any questioning.

The author also explains how culture still oppresses women in the 21st century.  It manages to engage most of the topics that have been happenings over the years. The first few chapters of the book are sturdy and very descriptive.  This book receives 3 and a half stars from me, mostly because the rest of the book was less researched in terms of the questioning.

Article By: Busisiwe Mphapang