Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Questions for Ada” as Want to Read:
Questions for Ada
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Questions for Ada

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  1,098 ratings  ·  139 reviews
The artistry of QUESTIONS FOR ADA defies words, embodying the pain, the passion, and the power of love rising from the depths of our souls. Ijeoma Umebinyuo’s poetry is a flower that will blossom in the spirit of every reader as she shares her heart with raw candor. From lyrical lushness to smoky sensuality to raw truths, this tome of transforming verse is the book every ...more
Paperback, 237 pages
Published August 7th 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform;
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Questions for Ada, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,098 ratings  ·  139 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Questions for Ada
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
!!! REVIEW -
Now THIS is how you write a poetry collection. 'Questions for Ada' is full of strength, vulnerability and pride. Every word in these poems is heavy with meaning and purpose. These poems show you that all your emotions are valid and must be felt. Some poetry collections feel lazy and words just seem to be thrown onto the pages. But 'Questions for Ada' is a collection that was carefully crafted with love and full awareness of self. I've
Francesca Forrest
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This poetry collection is breathtakingly beautiful. Ijeoma Umebinyuo is writing for women, about the experience of being a woman. The poems are about self-worth and self loathing, about love, about trauma, about family. Some are about Nigeria; some are about being a student abroad. There are poems so short that you can hold a whole one under your tongue and smuggle it across international lines, and others that are longer and unfold a whole story.

Here's a very short one that I love:

let me
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
So breathtaking I read it straight through twice. I'm sure I'll be rereading this when I'm heartbroken, when I need to be resilient, when I need to remind myself to be soft as well as tough, when I need to forgive myself.
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
tw csa

“You lost cultures
You lost languages
You lost religions
You lost it all in the fire
that is colonisation
so, do not apologise
for owning every piece of you
they could not take, break
and claim as theirs.”

“Weight of sadness

You apologise for
how you carry your
mother’s loneliness
between your teeth.

You apologise for
how you carry your
father’s sins
inside your blood.

You forgot
how to carry yourself
away from the histories
that threatens to break you
open, leaving you with grief
and unbearable weight of
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found her most powerful quotes were when she did not hide behind imagery and comes out and says what she truly feels (like in Diaspora Blues, First Generation and Homeland, so beautiful). But the writing seemed to me like a watered down (slightly cliche) mashup of Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche and Warsan Shire. Some of the lines and organization seemed forced and and repetitive (she says thunder in veins a lot), which is a shame because she covers such important topics and it takes away from a lot ...more
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Though the poetry collection, Questions for Ada, can display repetitive pattern of bruise, bondage and love with every page turn, Ijeoma Umebinyuo doesn't linger. Most of the poems here are short and brutal. Some poems can be read in time that takes to pull elbow back and deliver a punch; in both cases, the bruising and the aches arrive at the same time. Ijeoma Umebinyuo's themes vary between colonialism, cultural exploitation, alienation in foreign country, diaspora, mother, daughter, lover, ...more
Jan 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've become familiar with Ijeoma's work through her social media platforms and Tedx talk. Also this book was quite popular amongst my friends. So, how to rate this

If it was possible I would rate the first half of this book 2/5 stars and the rest 4/5 stars. So 3 stars.

The first half read in that very familiar Rupi Kaur way I still haven't gotten around to liking. Outside of a handful of pieces, most of it was underwhelming for me and I guess I'm just not the target group.
I will leave it at
Preethi Krishnan
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women, poetry
What can I say, I am in love. With a pain, she says I should not let overstay.
This collection of poems is breathtakingly beautiful. How can someone write so beautifully about pain, healing, about diaspora blues, and of course, about mother?

I beat my heart
till it became unconscious
last night

This morning,
my mother
showed me our scars;

multiple wounds
on her body.

She made me cry, laugh, and chuckle, all at the same time. She is lovely. Reading her is like listening to a friend who cares.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Breathtakingly beautiful -- I love this collection of poems! Ijeoma Umebinyuo writes with so much feeling and strength and rawness and realness. The poems in "Questions for Ada" make you ache even as they make you hope, they take you to the heart of pain, lead you through darkness and out into light and self acceptance, out into healing and self-love. Most of the poems are brief, but what power is in their brevity! I hope to see another collection from Ms. Umebinyuo soon; in the meantime, I'm ...more
Apr 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
wonderful book of poetry.

You must let the pain visit.
You must allow it to teach you.
You must not allow it to overstay.
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first poetry book. I did really enjoy it and I especially think this is very important and empowering for young black woman!
Zainab Sulaiman
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book. This work. It's the third book of poetry I've read in the last two years. I like it a lot better than the other two. Mainly because I felt like the poems had a flow. At times it felt like I was reading a short story collection. It felt like I was reading the thoughts of women at a gathering, a healing space/circle. But one woman is speaking life into them all. I held my chest so many times reading this. A lot of tears too. I could relate to so many poems. Some of my favorites are ...more
Ije the Devourer of Books
Poignant and beautiful poetry.
Marie Ainomugisha
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite impressed by it.
However, I’d like to read more poetry from her when it’s more seasoned... more refined with age.
A decent debut altogether.
Books & Rhymes
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
In ‘Questions for Ada’, Ijeoma Umebinyuo is bold and unflinching in calling for better treatment of women in society.

Ijeoma holds a mirror up to the many agents whose complicity sustains patriarchy, misogyny, oppression and subjugation of women.

This collection demands active intellectual & emotional engagement from the reader. Some of the poems will make you laugh out loud, gasp in shock or in one case, question your moral compass.

I’m forever grateful to my dear friend who saw it surprise
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked a lot of the poems, but I think a number of them were sort of 'fake deep'--like trying to give an illusion of depth by saying/writing what is basically the same thing in different forms. A lot of the poems had cliched metaphors, but the significant ones (posted in pictures on tumblr) left me in awe.
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
"She was always a wildflower - even her sadness, like water, helped her grow."
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the beginning
there were women.

remember all the women who wrote for you. all the women like you, with skin like yours. women who were once enslaved. women who were once colonized. women who hold languages that when you try to speak it, it tears your tongue wide open. remember all these women who were singers, poets, priestesses, artists, healers, whose lives were declared anonymous, whose paintings hang in foreign museums as "unknown" whose lives declared as unlived. remember them.

do not
Suzanne Majani
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has been on my to read list for the longest time, and this was because it's a very popular book within my reading circles, I was pleasantly surprised that it's an anthology of poems! And I've been meaning to add poetry to my list of preferred genres. A couple of phrases stood out for me, the top 3 phrases being;
1. "Be kind to your body it has won so many wars. Broken apart so many times, God uses me for lectures."
2. "Before the year ends, teach yourself five things your mother never taught
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
A third star for this:

“The day your education makes you roll your eyes at your father. The day your exposure makes you call your own motheruncivilized, the day your amazing foreign degrees make you cringe as your driver speaks pidgin english, may you never forget your grandfather was a farmer from Oyo state who never understood english.”

Haven’t we all done this... yikes @ ourselves.
Jassy Tamyra West
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“The woman alone,
finding parts of herself
she never knew existed
will always be more powerful”

“He said
“You are beautiful”
I told him
is a lazy and lousy way to describe me”

your soul
cracks open
to reveal flaws,
plant flowers.”

“America, while you were asleep
another woman mourned her
dead black lover’s
bullet-rider body,
as his baby cried
for her father’s life.”
Laetitia Mfuta
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We are all broken in many ways, and what Ijeoma achieves is to define pain in different narratives. Her words spoke to the woman in me, the lover in me, the daughter, I thought of my mother, of the immigrant experiences, but it was not only about the darkness in us, put it was a constant reminder of the divine within.
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, this was a case of having too high expectations. I’ve been aching to read this book for years, finding crumbs of it online here and there. It is indeed poetic and beautiful. It’s just that for years now I’ve sucked the marrow and now it’s bone dry.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This little book left me speechless. Political, feminine and feminist. I highly recommend it.
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ijeoma is a master of imagery. Her poems are like depth charges that sink into you and explode, shaking loose the questions, fears, emotions, and joy. Read this book, it is like eating a healthy, filling meal that also makes you cry.
Amanda Torres
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I keep going back and forth between 4 and 5. Can’t decide!
Corvinus Maximilus
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa, poetry
Heavily highlighted, beautiful poetry. There are verses that I will definitely meditate on for a long time.
Judith Huang
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Ordered this book because of extracts I saw on Instagram. Unsurprisingly, it’s in the vein of instapoetry: empowering feminist verse with a post colonial African slant. Heartfelt, though not always the most intricately crafted. Interesting read and the parts I most enjoyed referenced returnees and diasporas.
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't take it for granted when i read something with which I can relate.... poetry that touches you in a way that words cannot express....
This book.
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stunning, moving poetry. I laughed, I cried, I ached. Ijeoma is a truly gifted poet. I want more!!!!
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • soft magic.
  • Preparing My Daughter For Rain
  • Nejma
  • Bone
  • Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth
  • Black Movie
  • The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
  • On Black Sisters Street
  • Salt
  • The Smart Money Woman
  • Nectar
  • Even this Page is White
  • Prelude to Bruise
  • Under the Udala Trees
  • Neon Soul: A Collection of Poetry and Prose
  • The Bride Price
  • The Hundred Wells of Salaga
  • Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems
See similar books…
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-sharan Africa by

“So, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
Never enough for both.”
“1. You must let the pain visit.
2. You must allow it teach you
3. You must not allow it overstay.

(Three routes to healing)”
More quotes…