By Stefanie Davis
Jessica George’s debut novel, “Maame” is about coming of age, family, race, culture and finding yourself.
Maddie was born in London to immigrant parents. Her dad has Parkinson’s, and Maddie has been his primary caretaker while her mother is in Ghana running a hostel and her older brother is off with friends. Her mother is constantly nagging her about getting married and having kids, and at first, Maddie seems perfectly happy to be a homebody. However, she’s in her 20s, and all her friends are living independently, starting relationships and going on adventures.
So, when Maddie’s mom tells her that she is returning from Ghana for at least a year, Maddie jumps at the opportunity for independence. In addition to being her father’s primary caretaker, Maddie has also had to go to an unrewarding job every day where her boss is unreasonable and unstable, and Maddie is often the only Black person in the room. When Maddie moves in with two female flatmates, that all changes; she starts dating, going out at night and starting her list of what the “new” and independent Maddie will look like.
After a long night of partying with friends, Maddie wakes up and realizes she is late getting to her parent’s house to celebrate her father’s birthday. She is getting ready to head over there when she receives an urgent call from her mom telling her that her dad has died. Grief-stricken Maddie struggles with guilt from going out with friends and missing being with her dad on his birthday. Throughout this story, we learn much about Maddie and her family and life struggles through her sporadic Google searches that pop up.
If you enjoy this story, you may also enjoy “Queenie” by Candice Carty-Williams, “Yinka, Where is Your Husband?” by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn, “Ghosts” by Dolly Alderton, and “Swing Time” by Zadie Smith.
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