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I've Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  460 ratings  ·  90 reviews
In the tradition of Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, acclaimed novelist David Chariandy's latest is an intimate and profoundly beautiful meditation on the politics of race today.

When a moment of quietly ignored bigotry prompted his three-year-old daughter to ask "what h
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by McClelland & Stewart
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4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  460 ratings  ·  90 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
Lately there seems to be quite a few books out by authors writing to their children. Chariandy writes here to his daughter, a daughter who is of mixed race, African Asian and white. They live in Canada and an unexpected act of bigotry prompts him to try to explain to his daughter what she might face in this world. Also explains his own background and how his life was shaped by similiarities acts.

He is in awe of his daughter, the way she goes through life, handling things, in one case protecting
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First and foremost this is a loving and beautiful letter expressing an incredible deep love for a daughter cherished as the person she is and continues to develop into. Here is a father who loves his daughter unconditionally and cherishes the being that she is and will be in future. It's so lovely. This is one lucky girl. (I'm sure the entire family feels this love and cherish for each individual; it's just this book is for the daughter)

David Chariandy's writing is beautiful. His look at prejudi
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
David Chariandy proves once again that it is not the number of words in a book that matters – it’s finding the right words.

In I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You, he intimately and lovingly addresses his 13-year-old daughter, providing her with insights, guidance, and pivotal moments of her back history as she navigates her Canadian life as an “outsider.”

He writes, “I can glimpse through the lens of my own experience, how a parent or grandparent, encouraged to remain silent and feel ashamed of themsel
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a short book that is written as a message to his daughter. It describes his experience growing up as a person of colour and his hopes for her future. I liked the writing style.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was sad and lovely.
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ehbooklover, margaret
In I've Been Meaning To Tell You, Canadian author David Chariandy writes a letter to his thirteen-year-old daughter which addresses the issue of race and discrimination in today's world.

This small book packs quite a punch as Chariandy, with his well-written, often poetic, prose, dives into issues about race and discrimination using his own personal history as well as the experiences of his parents (who are Trinidadian immigrants) and his extended family, over several generations.

His writing is
In the vein of Ta-Nehisi Coates (both writers were inspired by the same James Baldwin essay), Chariandy writes a letter about race, identity, and belonging to his 13-year-old daughter. It's a very sweet, tender book that while reading feels almost like you've stumbled upon something too personal for outside eyes, like you're trespassing. Many beautiful loving words here. I'd probably recommend the print rather than the audiobook. I found Chariandy's narration too slow and overenuciated.
Kim Trusty
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and poignant and important.
Liz Laurin
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
this is a true love letter in every sense of the word.

what strikes me the most is how much not only love chariandy has for his daughter, but the respect he has for her, and in her and of her as her own person and not "his daughter" or her son's sister, or his wife's daughter, but as HER.

I hope all fathers read this. I hope all daughters are able to see themselves see their fathers or father figures in this. I know that not all will, but I truly wish they could.
Mofi Badmos
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
(2019: Read this a second time and it was even better on the second read. David Chariandy really did something great with this work)

My favorite part of writing reviews or talking about books I’ve read is revisiting how amazing the book was and the feelings I got from them. This one falls right into that category. Sometimes words can’t fully describe the extent.

Reading this, I felt the deep love and respect David has for his daughter through the stories he’s sharing with her. During my reading p
Alexander Kosoris
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
After a stranger asserted her right to butt in front of the brown-skinned Chariandy because she “was born here,” he had a difficult time explaining what happened to his then three year-old daughter. I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You is his attempt to do just that. Written as a letter to his daughter, the author works to unpack the colonial and racist history that built the Caribbean from which his parents came and also underlies the modern Canada, allowing casual, hateful ignorance to be thrust at v ...more
Jay Chi
Jun 05, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie meets Ta-Nehisi Coates à la Chariandy. The various subjects covered in this book, predominantly race and discrimination, while relevant and interesting primarily due to its setting in Vancouver where I live, unfortunately didn't resonate with me as much as Coates' Between the World and Me did; I attribute my response to Chariandy's almost lilting, smooth casual prose contrasted against Coates' strong, almost accusatory narration style, which I preferred. Tha ...more
Steven Buechler
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This slim volume is the most profound cultural artifact that I have encountered this year. Its 120 pages are filled with personal and emotional thoughts that Chariandy was kind enough to craft into a book and share with the world. He takes some personal moments with his daughter that are heart-wrenching (A moment where a father/daughter visit to a buffet is ruined when a bigoted patron butts her way in front of him and remarks “I was born here. I belong here.” Or the joyful events of his daughte ...more
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book on exchange for my honest review. I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would, expecting it to be too similar to Dear Ijeawale, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, but this father's love letter to his daughter is so much different. David Chariandy describes his own experiences with racism while also acknowledging the deep rooted racism in Canada against indigenous people through a heartwarming, but also heart ...more
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I feel quite inadequate to express how beautifully this book is written and how much I admire it. In so few words, Chariandy tells us what it feels like to be marginalized, discriminated against, and judged based on skin colour. He also speaks the universal language of parental love and concern - what a gift he has given his daughter with this short but powerful book.
Nadia L. Hohn
I cannot say too much as I am reviewing this book for a publication. :-)
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"But the fact is that I've never actually named you one way or the other, never told you, authoritatively, what you are, racially speaking. I supposed that I have imagined, at times, that you, as such complexly mixed children, might have the opportunity to choose and declare your own identity. I had forgotten that racial identities are so rarely a matter of personal choice. That it is always, in origin, a falsehood and violence, though, it can become, all the same, a necessary tool for acknowled ...more
Avi Bendahan
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
*Note: I was given an advanced reading copy of this book by the publishers, and am basing my review on that.

While I don't normally go for this kind of book (the Community and Culture section is one in which I an woefully under-read), the author was one that had come highly recommended to me by some colleagues (namely due to the fact they loved his novel 'Brother'), and its relatively small size promised that even if I didn't terribly enjoy it, it was a pretty small commitment to make.

Well, as
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canlit
I was skeptical at first of this "letter" book, released just a year after the enormous success of Brother which I've heard took a decade to write. Could this wee tome pack a punch? The answer is yes. David Chariandy writes this book for his daughter, and in publishing it, is incredibly generous to the reader for sharing. It is at times very serious (there are a few lines of levity at the end), but I suppose it is a serious book. I haven't read something filled with so much heart and love in a w ...more
Jane Mulkewich
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I bought this slim volume at the airport to read on a flight home, and it was perfect; a relatively quick read which has a lot of impact. I have had the pleasure of meeting David Chariandy previously, and I have read both of his other books. This book was sparked when his 3-year-old daughter noticed his entire change of demeanour after a racist comment from a stranger. Ten years later, he writes a love letter to his 13-year-old daughter on racial identity and the complexities of her heritage. Sh ...more
Zoë Danielle
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Brother was one of the most powerful books I read last year, so I was very interested when I learned about I've Been Meaning To Tell You by David Chariandy, a non-fiction memoir/essay/letter to his daughter by the same author. Like Brother, this is a short but incredibly powerful book, with a sharp awareness and honesty about the world. It is a beautiful letter to a daughter, but at the same time, so much more. Of course, it reminded me of Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Sugges ...more
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reads
David Chariandy has created magic in a mere 120 pages. His thoughtful and gentle prose pulls the reader in and allows one to gaze at a handful of his life experiences with racism and not/belonging. Throughout the book he is committed to naming the violence of racism but also holding hope that people are capable of doing something better.

'If there is anything to learn from the story of our ancestry, it is that you should respect and protect yourself; that you should demand not only justice but jo
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of my wildest dreams is that we will no longer have to deal with racism ever again, that people can appreciate that our differences make us unique, but that we can respect and learn from each others' cultures and histories and that skin colour is just simply that. It's heartbreaking that it's 2018 and there is still so much rampant hatred throughout the world.

Until then, I think this should be required reading for anyone of any skin tone. It's a beautifully moving letter from the author to h
Sherry Monger
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to hear David Chariandy speak at the London Public Library when Brother was named as the book all London should read. He speaks with quiet intelligence of his experiences, interspersing many witty remarks along the way. Born to immigrant parents of African and South Asian descent, Chariandy seeks to impart some wisdom and pride to his newly teen aged daughter about her heritage - of the difficult path her forbears have trod. Well written, this book sensitizes us to issues of p ...more
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canada, biography
This is a letter written to his 13 year old daughter on race and racism, identity, growing up other in Canada by David Chariandry. He looks back on his parents experiences as new immigrants to Canada (via Trinidad, black and South Asian), and to his own experience as a working class youth in Scarborough and to his kids current experiences (white mother, black/South Asian father). Asks lots of questions, his own experiences on how to navigate race with his kids. Short and a really interesting dis ...more
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, canadian-author
Out for lunch with his young daughter, David Chariady is on the receiving end of a callous, ignorant act of racism. Ten years later, he writes this letter to his daughter to explain to her why he didn’t retaliate or even react in that moment. Canada is known worldwide for its diversity and tolerance but Chariandy reminds us that that’s not everyone’s experience. Born in Canada to Caribbean and South Asian immigrant parents, David shares his own story and prepares his daughter for life in Canada ...more
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was excited to see this tiny book because I adored Chariandy's Brother and was eager to read whatever was next released.

This is an extremely slim book that packs a punch in a manner similar to that of Coates and Adichie even if there are certainly a number of differences. It is well worth the read and given its brevity, there is no excuse for not reading it.

It is the kind of book one needs to reflect on and be troubled by, especially today given the climate f society.
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: junk
Not really Chimamanda. Long and flourished. Too flourished for my taste, without saying much.
❀ Susan G
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
So heartfelt and honest. A letter to his daughter sharing his experience growing up with a black/south Asian heritage in Ontario. Full review pending
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this book.

A lot of the time, I wondered why I was reading it. (For the record: because my mom recommended it, highly, to me, saying she thought it was wonderful; perhaps having a child makes the book as a whole feel a bit more significant? Maybe I could have imagined he was talking to his daughter as my mom or parents would to me, but to be honest, he is so in awe of his daughter, who seems like a wonderful young woman, that it just didn't feel applicable, or
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David Chariandy is a Canadian writer and one of the co-founders of Commodore Books.

His debut novel Soucouyant was nominated for ten literary prizes and awards, including the 2009 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (longlisted), the 2007 Scotiabank Giller Prize (longlisted), the 2007 Governor General's Award for Fiction (finalist), the 2007 ForeWord Book of the Year Award for literary ficti