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Deji Ayoade
Author
UNDERGROUND
'Deji Ayoade, author

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

Underground is an emotive journey of restored hope and faith along the path of attaining the American Dream and communion with a higher power that was there all along. Page by page, a personal narrative is revealed to the reader—one brimming with trials and triumphs, grief and joy, loss and love in equal measure. Through poignant, candid, and vulnerable storytelling, ‘Deji Ayoade shares his innermost stirrings of the heart and all the maelstroms they entail with utmost poise. Beyond the pages of outpourings by an American military man, this is a true story about a soul who, since birth, envisioned a thriving future for himself and the generations to come.
Reviews
Poet Ayoade, the first African immigrant to serve as a nuclear missile operator in the United States Air Force, debuts with an inspirational memoir chronicling his childhood in Nigeria and journey to become a doctor and American citizen. Ayoade, who at the age of seven promised his mother “One day, I will take you far away from here,” details his upbringing with an abusive father and the many family tragedies he endured—along with his dedication to creating a different life: “Underground is my unusual journey from childhood poverty to where I am today. How the impossible became a reality.”

Readers will be swept into Ayoade’s vivid recollections of his early years, including his strict education, brushes with death, and a strained relationship with his father. He recounts the family’s passion for American movies that made “America seem like the perfect place,” sparking his desire for a better future, and details his decision to become a veterinarian and eventually pursue a career in the U.S. military to ensure the best life for his family (and future generations). Ayoade’s story is moving, particularly his reconciliation with his father and hard-earned American citizenship, and his message that it’s never too late to chase your dreams resonates.

That message will evoke strong emotions for readers as Ayoade highlights the importance of hard work and the benefit of a committed support system, alongside his constant “wishing, praying, and fighting to be free from all the sadness and injustice around me”—a theme that echoes through much of the book, including in his acknowledgement that the fear he experienced as a nuclear missile operator was a “cost of this freedom.” Ayoade’s poetry and personal photographs are sprinkled throughout, illuminating his deep love for family and his ultimate belief in liberty as “The reason for it all./ A foundation for a new generation,/ The best gift to any child.”

Takeaway: This stirring memoir documents an immigrant’s fight for the American dream.

Great for fans of: Ashley C. Ford’s Somebody's Daughter, Maria Hinojosa’s Once I Was You.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

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