Maame by Jessica George

Published: January 31, 2023

St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 314

Genre: Women’s Fiction

KKECReads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.

Jessica George was born and raised in London to Ghanaian parents and studied English Literature at the University of Sheffield. After working at a literary agency and a theatre, she landed a job in the editorial department of Bloomsbury, UK. Maame is her first novel.

Maame (ma-meh) has many meanings in Twi but in my case, it means woman.

It’s fair to say that Maddie’s life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson’s. At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting.

When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. A self-acknowledged late bloomer, she’s ready to experience some important “firsts”: She finds a flat share, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating. But it’s not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family, and the perils––and rewards––of putting her heart on the line.

“They just won’t understand, you know? We’re Ghanaian, so we do things differently.”

Maddie is a doting daughter. She does everything to care for her ailing father since her mother spends every other year in Ghana, and her brother is busy living his life. When her mother comes home, Maddie moves out and decides to start living. When her dad dies unexpectedly, everything changes, and now Maddie feels like she is drowning. She’s angry but can’t express that; she’s anxious and told to pray. Secrets and expectations are tearing her apart.

This novel was beautiful. I wish I had more eloquent words, but this was a work of art.

I loved Maddie and her journey of self-discovery. She has such a beautiful heart and has spent so much time worrying about others she hasn’t allowed herself to worry.

I found the discussion and processing of grief in this book relatable, and when Maddie found out her dad died, it immediately punched me in the heart.

I loved Nia and Shu. They were the best friends and support system Maddie could have, and their love for her was pure. I loved their protective, honest way of caring for her.

I loved how culture and race were discussed in this novel. And the conversation about “playing devil’s advocate” was perfect and true.

This was a powerful book and a beautiful read. I am happy to recommend this stunning debut.

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