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by Jessica George
Hodder & Stoughton
Maame (ma-meh) has many meanings in Twi – used as a term of endearment, it means the woman, the responsible one, the mother, often before her time. Madeline Wright used to love being called Maame, now she hates it. ” It made me lonely and it made me sad. It made me responsible and guilty. It made me someone, if given the choice, I wouldn’t want to be.”
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.
Smart, funny, and deeply affecting, Jessica George’s Maame deals with the themes of our time with humour and poignancy: from familial duty and racism, to female pleasure, the complexity of love, and the life-saving power of friendship. Most important, it explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and cultures―and it celebrates finally being able to find where you belong.
“George paints in bold, bright strokes [and] lets dark moments commingle with light ones…George shows the details and scope of life with such confidence and joie de vivre, it’s easy to forget she’s a first-time novelist. By the end of Maame, Maddie still has questions and she’s still curious, but she knows how to find what she needs in the real world. If that’s not a modern hero’s journey, I don’t know what is.” —The New York Times
“By turns tender and comic, this portrait of a young woman’s journey to self-understanding is triumphant.” —People
“Her fresh, vulnerable voice speaks directly to readers, without hiding behind glibness or easy self-assurance. George writes with a natural cadence that keeps the story engaging, her characters multidimensional, each of them deeply believable….Readers will be drawn into the peaks and troughs with this intrepid protagonist, feeling a sense of connection to and trust in her character. Maame isn’t always an easy story to read, but it is always told with grace and compassion. As Maddie breaks through layers of family secrecy, it’s a pleasure to watch her navigate the challenges of growth and growing up, to address what it means to be an adult and to live a full life.” —The Washington Post
“George has fashioned an appealing hero here: You can’t help but root for Maddie’s emancipation. Funny, awkward, and sometimes painful, her blossoming is a real delight to witness. A fresh, often funny, always poignant take on the coming-of-age novel.” —Kirkus
“This evocative—and, at times, gloriously messy—coming-of-age story tackles enormous contemporary topics and issues… Maame’s clear, sharp-eyed, detail-focused, honest voice provides a consistent, compelling thread throughout the narrative… A thought-provoking and enjoyable debut.” —The Boston Globe
“An utterly charming and deeply moving portrait of the joys—and the guilt—of trying to find your own way in life.” —Celeste Ng, bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere
“Lively, funny, poignant . . . Prepare to fall in love with Maddie. I did!” —Bonnie Garmus, bestselling author of Lessons in Chemistry