Family over everything in this intriguing tale

Saturday January 23 2021
Family pic
By Neelam Babul

Title: My Name is Tani . . . and I Believe in Miracles: The Amazing True Story of One Boy’s Journey from Refugee to Chess Champion by Tanitoluwa Adewumi, Kayode Adewumi (contributor), Oluwatoyin Adewumi (contributor), Craig Borlase (contributor)

Genre: Non Fiction: Memoir/Autobiography

Something you liked about it.

My Name Is Tani is a powerful true story of sacrificing everything for your family, living with nothing but hope, then sharing generously what you have received to help others who faced the same challenges you did.


This is an inspirational, poignant, emotional and hopeful book about a young boy with an extraordinary talent for chess. 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 in miracles even whilst battling against adversity and poverty.

Summarize the book

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. All he knew was that when his parents told the family was going to America, he 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.

It is an incredible 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.

What would you say to persuade a friend to read it?

This is a touching and heartwarming story full of hope that will inspire any person to believe in the resilience of families through their love for one another, support and encouragement of each other to do their best and believe in each other.

Summarize it in one written sentence

A miraculous journey from adversity to triumph.

What feedback would you give the author?

This is an inspiring and touching memoir, which undoubtedly will touch the lives of every reader, be it an adult or a child. This is a book I would encourage parents to read with their children. It will help children understand the importance of perseverance and also help develop a passion for the game of chess.