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Maame (2023)

by Jessica George

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6243437,838 (3.79)8
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 humor 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.… (more)
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Let’s cut to the chase… Despite various publisher statements about Maame being ‘funny’ and ‘hilarious’, this is not a romantic comedy novel. Sure, there are observations and situations peppered throughout this tale that are fleetingly funny in an awkward/dark way, but at no point did I find myself actually chuckling while reading. I usually revel in dark and dry humour, but in this case, it was too often wrapped up in self-doubt, self-sabotage and deep grief for me to garner much levity from it.

Humour, though, is very subjective, and my 4+ decade perspective on life may just not have jibed well with this twenty-something author’s or that of her similarly aged leading lady Maddie Wright. What for me seemed like excessive levels of self-doubt, e.g. repeatedly asking Google what she should do in situations, presented a barrier to my feeling any real sense of kinship with the character.

That all said, I did very much “feel for” Maddie Wright as she navigated the myriad challenges she faces. Continue reading: https://www.bookloverbookreviews.com/2024/04/maame-jessica-george.html ( )
1 vote BookloverBookReviews | Apr 20, 2024 |
Maame is a novel rich in culture, specifically the Akan-speaking people of Ghana, where Twi is the dialect spoken in southern and central Ghana. Maame translates to "woman" in Twi which means "woman", a term Maddie's mother has called her 25 year-old daughter since she was young. Maddie had graduated with a university degree in English Literature when her father was diagnosed with late-stage Parkinson's disease. Instead of moving on to live her life as adult, she is tasked with taking a job to maintain a stable income to care for her father. Maddie's mother spends most her time helping to run a hostel in Ghana, leaving the responsibility to Maddie to care for her father in London. Although he has a caregiver, Dawoud, he requires around the clock care leaving Maddie rather stunted in her social development as a young adult. It doesn't help that her 15 year-old brother also chooses to escape responsibility by never being available to help his sister physically or financially with care of his father. He chooses to float about living with friends and working for musicians. .

Maddie's job is less than fulfilling given that she is the only Black person who was hired to provide the visual of the workplace being "diverse". She keeps people at a distance even her best friend as realizes that she is emotionally and socially awkward because of her ability to experience life like her peers. It's only when Maddie's mother returns to London for a year does Maddie move past her guilt and fears to move out on her own leaving her mother to care for her father. Maddie is not prepared for the life of and independent young adult and often finds herself using Google for advice because she has no close relationships. As you can imagine, she learns from her missteps and mishaps the lessons she feels she should already lived. After finding a flat where she finds living with other young women a chance to make new friends and expand her horizons by finding a job where she can use her university degree.

This is a bitter sweet "coming-of-age" story of a 25 year-old who finally gets to explore the life she was meant to live. Her experiences are life altering in positive and challenges ways as she can no longer rely on Google to help her maneuver life. She needs to confront tragedy and loss so that she can develop the confidence and self-esteem necessary to progress as an adult in the world. The author draws you into Maddie's story in a personal manner which has you wanting to help Maddie and steer her in a better direction. Life is an experience which one can only experience individually both happiness and sorrow.

Many thanks to St Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me access to read this digital book. My review of this book is my honest and unbiased opinion. All comments are expressly my own. ( )
  marquis784 | Mar 27, 2024 |
A coming of age story about a 25 year old woman born to parents who emigrated from Ghana to England. She assumed adult responsibilities for the household and her father with Parkinson's disease in her early teens. Her domineering mother is absent every other year on trips to Ghana.

Although Maddie has adult responsibilities, she is naive about social interactions. She has often been alone and repressed because of her mother's insistence that she should not tell outsiders about their family's business. Added to that loneliness is the isolation she feels as the only black woman at work and other social situations.

This book focuses on what happens when at the age of 25 her mother returns and Maddie is able to move out of the family home. She negotiates finding roommates, loses a job she hated and finds one more suited to her talents. And she begins dating for the first time in 8 years.

Shortly after she moves out, her father dies unexpectedly. Ultimately, this is a story about how Maddie deals with that grief, in addition to the rest of the upheaval in her life. ( )
  tangledthread | Feb 12, 2024 |
Maame by Jessica George presents an interesting twist to the ubiquitous twenty-something woman trying to find herself in the world. Maddie’s been raised religiously and conservatively by her Ghanaian mother and father, and family responsibilities have kept her home taking care of her sick father for years. But with her mother’s return to London Maddie finally moves out to pursue a life, and readers follow along with her attempts to find friends, love, and success at work. Maame is an enjoyable spin on the coming-of-age trope with excellent writing and interesting takes on race, gender, and sexuality. ( )
  Hccpsk | Feb 10, 2024 |
Representation: Black, Asian and biracial (half Asian and half white) characters
Trigger warnings: Racism, cheating, death of a father, grief and loss depiction, panic attacks, depression mentioned
Score: Seven points out of ten. Find this review on The StoryGraph.

Maame should have won Best Fiction instead of Yellowface; the former is far better. I saw this book at a library, and after noticing it was a nominee for Best Fiction, I wanted this one, so I had to pick it up and read it. Did I mention that if Maame won, a Black author would win a Choice Award? When I finished Maame, it was enjoyable and an impressive debut from Jessica George.

It starts with the first character I see, Maddie Wright, living with her father, who has Parkinson's disease, while her mother is in Ghana. Here's the catch: Maddie's central attributes are that she is naïve and never fully experienced life, even though she's in her twenties. Which is why Maame starts living her life to the fullest after her mother travels to London instead of staying at home all day caring for her father. Maame's first half goes smoothly as Maddie got the life she deserves, but I noticed Maddie saying that sometimes she's the only Black person in the room (there might be other minorities but not people like Maddie) which must make her feel isolated. However, I struggle to comprehend why Maddie's mother left Maddie alone to experience adulthood alone. Maame shines in its characters and pacing, as they are respectively relatable and engaging. Maddie develops a relationship with another person for the first time, but that didn't pan out as well as she expected. Maame said that person was racist since his new (white) partner received better treatment than Maddie. That sounds more like preferential treatment, but I can understand. Maddie, after losing her father, has had enough of her mother, calling her out for her absence in her life, occurring in Maame's latter half. The mood also changed from exciting to sombre, and later on, bittersweet, as Maddie finds a new person to start a relationship, and this time, it goes well. What a story. ( )
  Law_Books600 | Jan 26, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jessica Georgeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Agyepong, HeatherNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grlic, OlgaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Dad
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In African culture—-Wait, no I don't want to be presumptuous or in any way nationalistic enough to assume certain Ghanaian customs run true in other African countries.
Quotations
I knew to keep family matters private from outsiders but never considered the secrets we were possibly keeping from one another.
“… It's about what love is. Which is trust, commitment, empathy, and respect. It really means giving a shit about the other person.”
“We all grieve in different ways, you know?” she adds. “Losing someone is universal, but I think that's about it, really. The rest is our own thing.”
A person's troubles are not measured by the size of those troubles, but by how much they weigh on the individual carrying them.
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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 humor 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.

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