I’m not a parent and not planning on being a parent any time soon, or really, ever. That means I’m probably not the ideal audience for this book, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a few years ago and my favorites parts were the essays woven throughout the narrative. For this reason, I’ve been meaning to pick up some of Adichie’s nonfiction as I figured it would resonate with me.
Dear Ijeawele was originally a letter written from Adichie to her childhood friend after she asked Adichie for advice on how to raise her new daughter as a feminist. Adichie sent her 15 suggestions which she later tweaked after she became a parent herself. She acknowledges at the start that following all the suggestions all the time is a big ask and quite daunting. She’s not wrong and I’m not sure I’d give this as a gift to new parents for this reason. I would absolutely suggest it as required reading for anyone who has or works with children though!
Adichie has an assertive, witty writing style and it’s in full force here as she lays down truth bombs and insights. “The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina.” Her narrative is very clear and her 15 suggestions give an easy to understand structure.
I really enjoyed that this came from an African perspective on feminism which has different nuances to it than the most often heard viewpoints of western, often white, feminism. She acknowledges intersectionality and cultural history. Adichie has clearly spent a lot of time reading and thinking about different aspects of feminism and it shows in this short little book.