Cover Image: My Name is Tani

My Name is Tani

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Member Reviews

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. It has been published in September 2020.

"My Name is Tani" by Tanitoluwa Adewumi is the heart-warming true story of a refugee boy from Nigeria who joins the chess program in his school and less than a year later ends up winning the chess championship. In doing so, he also earns a scholarship for himself and a brand new start in life for his whole family.
It's just like one of those feel-good movies that are out in the cinemas every Christmas, only Tani's story is real and it had started off as distant as possible from a feel-good Christmas movie: Tani and his family had to flee their country to escape the persecution by Boko Haram, leaving a whole life behind in order to survive. Both Tani and his mother and father share their memories and emotions about this painful choice-without-a-choice, and this part of the book is truly heart-breaking, especially the chapters narrated from Tani's POV, with all innocent obliviousness of a 6-year-old boy.
The only thing I felt was missing, was the point of view of the fourth member of the family, Tani's older brother, who is the only one who for some reason doesn't get his own chapters in the book. I would have loved to learn his particular take on the events related.
However, this story is not a tragedy or a tear-jerker (or not so much of it): it's really a story about new beginnings, second chances and good people helping each other. It's about the American dream, and for once, it's all true. A true story with a happy ending, how often do we get one of those?
I recommend reading this book to every right-wing extremist who is in favour of raising walls, strengthening borders and banning human beings based on their nationality. They should all read this book and learn something new. I also recommend this book to anyone who enjoys happy endings. Basically, I recommend this book to everyone at all, because we all need some uplifting story every once in a while.
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At first, I would like to thank Netgalley and Harperinspire for allowing me to review this book. Keep in mind that my review, however, is my true opinion on this book.

Today “My Name is Tani - The Amazing True Story of One Boy's Journey from Refugee to Chess Champion” by Tanitoluwa Adewumi and Craig Borlase is released by HarperInspire.

The author, Tanitoluwa Adewumi, was born in Nigeria and won the New York State Chess Championship as a child after having played the game for only one single year. When he was young, he and his family left Nigeria to go to New York, where they lived in a homeless shelter. They were only just getting by. But they worked hard and tried their best to make a memorable and lovely life. And then, when Tani started playing chess and was offered a scholarship to join the chess programme, everything changed for the family. And “My Name is Tani” tells this story!

We hear the story from Tani himself, Tanis mother Oluwatoyin, and Tanis father Kayode. They all give a different perspective on the entire story. It is uplifting, exciting, and a lovely story of a family and a boy working hard to make their way to the top. 

This is an exciting story. But knowing that there is truth to the story makes the authenticity great. Hard work surely pays off! What a beautiful story! It is such a different life, but it is very interesting to hear about. 


This is such an inspiring story! It is a story of dreams! And it is a story of hope!
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This is a much-needed inspirational book about resilience and overcoming adversity. It is told from three perspectives: Tani is the enthusiastic child who became a chess wonder, who tells his story with gusto and a refreshing innocence; it is the most chess-heavy part of the narrative. Oluwatoyin is Tani’s mother, originally from a large Muslim Yoruba family; she is a wonderful cook and will do anything for her family and her community. Kayode is Tani’s father, a prince of the Yoruba people who owns a printing press in Nigeria until he is threatened by the Boko Haram because he won’t print their propaganda. He too will do whatever it takes to support and protect his family. With so much tragic or depressing news linked to the refugee experience, it was wonderful to read a story that ends well. My Name is Tani celebrates the hospitality and generosity  of the Yoruba people while also showcasing what *can be* great about Americans and the United States. It is a quick read that will leave you feeling better about the world – and if you love chess, it is even better as lots of chess moves and chess heroes are described.
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I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Harper Collins UK, and the author Tanitoluwa Adewumi. 
This was a very easy read but an inspiring and uplifting story. Written in the voice and from the point of view of every family member, Father, Mother, and son, it builds a clear and engaging story of the Adewumi's lives in both Nigeria and New York. Would be a great book for YAs/teens. 3.5 stars.
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Many thanks to Thomas Nelson publishers and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC version of this book in exchange for an honest review and what a brilliant book this is.

Tani and his family went through some really tough stuff and still kept the faith in God and the system, which served them well.  It reminded me a little of Queen of Katwe, another film about a female chess prodigy.

The family worked so hard to rise up out of their situation from a decent family life in Nigeria which had to be escaped because of threats by the Boko Harum and then to Dallas and then to New York where they spent months living in a homeless shelter.

It is then found that Tani who had played chess for less than a year was gifted at it.  I highly recommend this book if you want to read a feel good story.
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A truly inspiring and beautiful story of hope that will allow you to believe in the resilience of families. Through the love and support of your family, anything can be achieved. 
Finding out about life in Nigeria from someone who has lived through it is fascinating.
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Heart wrenching a story of hardship struggles and a family’s hope.A book that inspires amazed me with their strength fortitude.A book that drew me in highly recommend,#netgalley#mynameistani
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Inspiring and uplifting is how I would describe this memoir. It really did warm my heart. Fleeing from their home country of Nigeria to escape the Boko Haram Tani and his family set off for America. It was in America that Tani discovered his love of chess and his passion and dedication to is would be life changing for the whole family.

Seeing the perspectives of both Tani and his parents was really lovely and throughout the book the love that they had for eachother and their strength really shone through. I was in awe of them and just hearing their story gave me a new found strength. They sacrificed all they had for eachother but they still had faith and hope. Reading this memoir will inspire you to believe in miracles because they truly do exist.
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I loved this book. Written from 3 points of view (Tani, his mother and his father), it is filled with detail, but sensitively written and is suitable for older primary aged children with some support. This is a great way to introduce Nigerian culture, terror, survival and refugism (not a real word, I know). I can’t believe how positive the family are, even when facing such terrors (boko haram). I’d highly recommend this book.

A pity the photographs weren’t visible, but a quick trip to Google solved that.
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A heartwarming story of one family’s sheer determination to make life better and escape from a world where they fear for their lives. From the terror they go through to the kindness of others we follow Them in the words of both Tani and his mother. Simply written but all is needed are the facts.
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My Name is Tani is an emotive and inspiring read that gives you hope in man kind and makes you marvel at the strength some people have no matter what they endure . It's a story of family, love , hardship and unwavering belief in each other.
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A wonderful story. Regardless of happy endings (not a spoiler, you can figure it out from the title), the suffering is so real in this book and you feel the strength and love of the Adewumi family throughout. Seeing life from the perspective of both parents and Tani himself as they endure this traumatic experience is so powerful.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it made me remember all the positives in life. 
I read this through @netgalley and will be getting a few copies in my school library 📚 If you're an educator, you need to read this book! 👏🏻
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Although I have to admit that I found the style and quality of writing of theis book somewhat childlike, it is a wonderful story to tell and one which most of us should try in order to appreciate the lives of others. I think it would really suit secondary aged pupils and could be part of PSE teaching in schools. I would hope that most school libraires would stock copies. Thank you for the opportunity to read this and aid mjy understanding of refugees lives.
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My Name is Tani is the extraordinary true story of a young boy charting his journey 'from refugee to chess champion'.  The book is simply written, in the first person and reads like a narration alternating between Tani and his mother and father.  The story begins in Nigeria where the father is targetted by the terrorist organisation Boko Haram.  The family flee to America and stay with the mother's uncle, in Dallas, who she has never met.  They move on to New York and are taken in by an old friend who they reconnect with via facebook.  Then they start the long process of claiming asylum, living in a homeless shelter and picking up the pieces of their lives through school and hard work in low paid jobs.

This really is an extraordinary memoir.  It is one of those books that makes you think about the things we all take for granted, not least our safety.  I particularly liked Oluwatoyin's (Tani's mum's) reflections on the importance of kindness in her race within the Nigerian culture.  The determination of the family to work hard and succeed is a lesson to our somewhat blase nature in the western world.  The description of the chess coaches Shawn and Russ is uplifting and a reminder that there are good people all around us.  This is a book that celebrates all of the good things that happened after something dreadful, it is full of positivity and hope.

Thank you to NetGalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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An absolutely inspirational story of how a young Nigerian boy and his family were forced to flee Nigeria and seek refuge in The States told from the perspective of mother ,father and two sons one of whom at eight years of age has a talent for playing chess and strives to become the best he can.
An short book, easy reading but entertaining.
Thanks again for the ARC.
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"Talent is universal, but opportunity is not"

I think that sentence summarises the book very nicely. In "My name is Tani", we meet Tani and his family, initally living in Nigeria, but who have to move to the US hiding from Boko Haram. As assylum seekers, they live in a refuge in New York, where Tani's father works hard to advance himself and his family. In school, Tani starts playing chess and discovers he's really good at it.

There are three main voices in the story. Tani's parents dominate the narrative, and I liked that, because their voices give a broader view of the events that made them leave Nigeria and their lives as refugees. It is kind of nice to see that Tani and his brother weren't fully aware of what was going on, either in Nigeria or while living with their relatives in the US. Tani's voice centers mostly on the chess aspect, and that comes only in the second half of the book.
I liked hearing about the Nigerian traditions, and about the Yoruba tribe.

Overall it's a nice story, and an inspiring one. It will also give some food for thought for many about what it means to be an immigrant. The way it's told (and its short length) I think makes it very suitable for kids, and maybe that will help make a more tolerant society in the coming years.
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What a joyous read!! Tani’s story is a look inside the story about refugees that the media don’t usually tell. That they are not some amamalgomous mass of faceless people coming to steal our jobs/welfare/housing etc but real people with real stories and in cases like Tani’s parents; incredibly successful people in their home county. If not for Bokoharam Tani and his family would still be living happily at home in Nigeria. 
The story is beautifully told; as Tani himself say, he can’t tell the story of their early days living in Nigeria because he is a very young boy so his mother and father join the narrative. Being told from the perspective of three people gives the book a well rounded feel and also goes to show how close and united the family are. Their strong Christian faith isn’t at the forefront of the book but is evident throughout in joyous times and in the perishing fear of hiding from terrorists outside your own front door. 
The evolution of Tani’s chess playing from a paper set that his brother makes to the chess classes in his primary school is inspiring and I think more states and indeed countries need to place chess within the school curriculum. Tani is incredibly articulate for his age and is able to describe clearly and with passion what it means for him and how it makes him feel. The most striking part of the story for me is the mentorship of the coaches Shawn and Russ. This story would not exist without these two incredible men seeing something in Tani and giving up their time and sometimes their money in order to help Tani reach his dreams. That they didn’t just support Tani but also took his mother under their wing melts my heart. 
I think this book needs to be on a middle or high school reading list as it challenges so many hackneyed stereotypes of refugees and provides such a positive message and motivation both simply through the actions of others but also from Tani’s parents wonderful and wise pieces of advice for their children.
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My Name Is Tani is a powerful true story of sacrificing everything for family, living with nothing but hope, then sharing generously all they received to discover the greatest riches of all. Tani Adewumi didn't know what Boko Haram was or why they had threatened his family during their reign of terror in their native country of Nigeria when his family were to become targets for capture and killing. All he knew was that when his parents told the family was going to America, Tani thought it was the start of a great adventure rather than an escape. In truth, his family's journey to the United States was nothing short of miraculous--and the miracles were just beginning. Tani's father, Kayode, who comes from a royal family, became a dishwasher and Uber driver while Tani's mother, Oluwatoyin, cleaned buildings, while the family lived in a New York City homeless shelter waiting to be granted religious asylum. He attended New York City public school where his classmates were unaware that he and his family had no home.

So when Tani asked his parents if he could join the chess program at school, which required a fee, it seemed unlikely. But his mother wrote to the coach, who offered Tani a scholarship. Eight-year-old Tani jumped into his new life with courage and perseverance--and an unusual mind for chess and he practiced his game for hours in the evenings at the shelter. Then he began competing in the ultra-exclusive chess clubs of New York City. And winning - again and again. And less than a year after he learned to play, Tani won the 2019 New York State chess championship. This is an inspirational, dramatic, emotional and hopeful book about a young boy with an extraordinary aptitude for chess. But if you ask Tani Adewumi, he will tell you he believes in miracles and one happened to him and his family. This story will inspire, delight, and challenge you to believe even whilst battling against adversity and poverty.

It is an incredible, endlessly dramatic and wonderfully engaging memoir with the ability to move and touch hearts. Tani's story will inspire you to believe in the beauty of unity and the power of the human spirit to triumph over the greatest adversities. And his family's faith will inspire you to believe in miracles. It is an intriguing concept to consider: that the game of chess rescued and redeemed an entire family unit. Told from the perspective of Tani, his family, and those closest to him, Tani’s story will inspire you to believe in yourself regardless of the circumstances and the faith and persistence of Tani’s family will inspire you to believe in miracles. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Harper Inspire for an ARC.
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What an amazing uplifting memoir amongst all that is so sad in society. It made me grateful to have received the opportunities as I grew up. I cannot really imagine how one succeeds amongst adversity. Tears at the heart strings.
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How could I resist that smiling face on the cover?  I loved this book as it is so full of happiness and hope, despite the circumstances.  And how proud Tani's parents must be of him.  Lovely to read a book where the emphasis is on the positive, ie the help received, which left me thinking that maybe the human race isn't so bad after all.  But I suppose there has to be sadness too, at the number of kids just like Tani who don't get this chance.  So hats off to his parents for setting up the foundation.
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