Book Review: Questions for Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo


Yellow Fever

I am woman enough to know

you do not force

womanhood out of girls


That you do not shame

the bodies of girls,

forcing them 

to carry themselves like an apology,

to hold sorry on their lips


So, on the day Uchenna

is offered bleaching cream

she will know her skin like moonless nights

is a beautiful color to carry with pride. 



I thought I’d read enough of advocacy, powerful poetry books when I came across ‘Milk and Honey‘ and ‘Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth‘ but as it turns out, there was more to look out for.

I learnt of ‘Questions for Ada’ through twitter conversations of bookshops (Magunga Bookstore and Prestige Bookshop) based in Nairobi, where they kept urging readers to get a copy of the book because apparently, the books were on high demand. From the excerpts of the poems they were sharing every now and then, it was evident and apparent enough, that this book is a must have because it emphasizes so much on a subject that I hold so dearly, Womanhood! 

Did it live up to the hype? Oh yes it sure did and surpassed!



Title: Questions for Ada

Author: Ijeoma Umebinyuo

Category: Poetry 


‘Questions for Ada’ is a breath of new fresh breeze in the unwavering poetry world which hasn’t fallen short of an impending breathtaking book featuring a collection of poems, that has interwove pain, passion and power of love shared from a very personal view. The poems are addressed to Ada which I belive, ‘Ada’ has been used to represent the women in the society. It talks of domestic violence, marriage, immigration and societal pressures that women face in our present day set-up, skin bleaching. These topics have been covered in an in-depth way that I immediately related with and had myself reading while nodding and snapping my fingers at the same time in agreement.

This book comes as a wake up call to women to embrace their flaws to journey on through the murky waters society presents them. It is a call for young women to learn from their mothers, sieve through their experiences and demand for better. Demand to be respected and appreciated. It is a call for women to stand up and shun off intimidation and mediocrity. For women to rise up and fully claim the position of their gender regardless of the oppression they face. It is a call for that  young woman who thinks she’s not pretty enough in her God given skin. You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are of value! This is a call to women to stand up and thrive not merely strive to survive.

There are many ways to love yourself

without breaking in half for a man. 

Even your mother forgot to teach herself. 


I’ve had to read the book thrice trying to devour its awesomeness and every time I’ve had to turn a page after the other, felt like I was reading it for the first time. There’s something about it which I’ve obviously failed to put in words but just to be clear, this is a book that’s going to have the longest shelf life in my stack of books because am jealously guarding it for my generation.

He said,

“You are beautiful.”

I told him


is a lazy and lousy way to describe me.

Being her first debut gets me all jittery and excited because it’s a clear indication that there’s more creme de la creme literally works to expect.

It’s a fast read which only requires a single sitting but I’m not that kind of person. I had to pause after realizing that the pace at which I was reading was so fast which meant, I will be through with it earlier that I had expected. I literally heeded to the words, ‘it’s not a good read if its’s only read once’ thus my reason for reading it thrice and to many more going forward.

Daughters do not have to inherit

the silence of their mothers.

Looking at the excerpts I’ve shared, how grounded are you to resist a re-read?

About the author (Goodreads)

Ijeoma Umebinyuo is a Nigerian author. She was born in Lagos, Nigeria. She is the author of Questions for Ada, her first published collection of prose poems and poems. Her writings have been translated to Portuguese, Turkish, Spanish, Russian and French. In 2016, Ijeoma Umebinyuo was named one of the top ten contemporary poets from Sub-Saharan Africa by

If you are looking for a page turner poetry book, then ‘Questions for Ada’ fits the cut. Read and share widely.




3 thoughts on “Book Review: Questions for Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo”

  1. Oh wow, sounds like a powerful read especially about womanhood/feminism. I like the excerpts that you shared. I normally don’t read poetry but I am tempted to make an exception for this one.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. […] Questions for Ada: By now ya’ll know how I take pride in women and womanhood. Feminism is encrypted at the center of my heart and that’s why I take pride in books whose subjects are inclined to this. Almost all the poetry books I’ve read draw their themes on this subject but I found ‘Questions for Ada’ to be a very enchanting book that digs deeper on women emancipation. I’ve it thrice and wouldn’t mind doing it again! I loved Ijeoma’s prowess given it’s her debut. I look forward to more of her enthralling literary work […]


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