Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie : Book Review

Chimamanda Adichie is famous for her captivating and thought-provoking books on feminism and gender equality. Rarely do we come across an author who writes such strong and inspiring essays that become a page-turner. So it doesn’t come as a surprise when I say that I finished this 70 paged book in 2 hours and I went back to read it three more times after that. I devoured this book and let it, in turn, drive away my half-hearted, ignorant and semi-feminist prejudiced thoughts.

Please note : I am going to quote a lot from this book.

“I matter. I matter equally. Not ‘if only’. Not ‘as long as’. I matter equally. Full stop.”

Adichie’s book is in response to a letter she had received from her friend Ijeawele inquiring about the right way to raise a child as a feminist. I am not a mother yet, although whenever I have had thoughts about bringing up my child (son or daughter), I have considered time and again what should I do differently to ensure that my children understand that gender never influences or affects the way you live your life. Most new parents, grandparents or any one who has to raise young children, fall in a hesitant situation where they are asked such simple yet difficult questions by the young ones whose answers could form the foundation of the child’s thoughts for many more coming years.


The book has 15 suggestions compiled in a manifesto and Adichie’s style of writing is so gentle that you can feel her sitting right next to you and guiding you while you bath or play with your child and this style is what makes you want to read more of her.


“The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina.”

Most of us, women, tax ourselves when we give higher priority to our work. Adichie reminds us that it is perfectly okay to be involved in the professional side without feeling guilty. To be a great mother, you have to be an equally great version of yourself and the work that you do defines a part of you.

‘Because you are a girl’ is never a reason for anything. Ever.

I particularly remember being told to walk ‘like a girl’, head bent down, legs close to each other, shoulders straight. The educators at our school reminded us that speaking loudly and crassly was manly and wasn’t proper for ‘good girls’. So many of our activities are defined by the gender that we belong to and has been molded by the patriarchal society.


Adichie introduced me to this term of ‘Feminism Lite’ wherein we use the idea of gender equality in a completely conditional way. Most of the times it is said that the husband “allowed” the wife to continue with her career. Or she couldn’t have become successful if her husband didn’t support her. It is high time such conditional feminism stops. This portrays Men as mighty and powerful, ones who have the right to allow or not allow Women to do something. This exact mentality is the reason why rape, domestic violence and partiality takes place against women/men. This is also one of the reasons why some women/men tend to garner unscrupulous benefits using their gender. There is no “weaker” sex. Do not stereotype a whole gender to be more powerful than another and casually name it feminism.

“Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of men and women or you do not.”


All her fifteen suggestions are excellently composed and connects a chord with all readers, irrespective of the situation in their real lives. I am so grateful to Adichie for writing this book and helping me understand and celebrate my femininity without allowing my feminist ideals (or call for gender equality) to waver. If anything it strengthens my beliefs and deconstructs the misconceptions that I had.


Publisher : 4th Estate

Pages : 70

Format : Hardcover

Rating : 5 / 5

Get the book here.

2 thoughts on “Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie : Book Review

  1. Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks says:

    Wow, I loved this post. So well written and refreshing. I have read a few books by Adichie, and have one more that I should start, but of all of her tales, I think the most mesmerizing are the ones she tells in person. I’ve watched a talk or two of hers, and it’s incredible. If I could get ahold of her books which she narrates in audio, it would be priceless. She is a great storyteller.
    Following your blog 🙂 great topic matter.
    Also, I should say I’m really lucky. I am sitting here right now, eating the cheesecake my boyfriend cooked. He is the cook in our house. I incidentally make more money. We’re not a traditional household, I should say. But I’m so lucky, because I know that in a different one, I wouldn’t be allowed to be me. I’m also lucky because back when I studied engineering, the only girl among only guys, I barely faced discrimination. Maybe about driving. Maybe in a class or two. But then I kicked their ass and was the best. And they never gave me a bad time – neither the students, nor the teachers. And then working in the “men’s” industry for three years, also never faced anything of the sort. And I am truly thankful for that, cause I know that it’s not the reality a lot of females face.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aritri says:

      Thank you so much Evelina. And it gives me such joy to see you do well and be content with your life. Strong and powerful women working their way to success through a patriarchy is extremely inspiring. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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