The Girl from Lamaha Street
A Guyanese girl at a 1960s English boarding school and her search for belonging
by Sharon Maas
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Pub Date 07 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 01 May 2022
‘One thing stood out in all the books I read. These children were all white. They had blue eyes and soft straight hair. Not a single child in a story was brown like me. How could that be right?’
Growing up in British Guiana in the 1950s, Sharon Maas has everything a shy child with a vivid imagination could wish for. She spends her days studying bugs in the backyard of her family home on Lamaha Street, eating fresh mangos straight from the tree and losing herself in books tucked up on her granny’s lap, surrounded by her uncles and aunts.
But Sharon feels alone in a house full of adults. Her parents are divorced and her father is busy campaigning for British Guiana’s independence. With her mother often away for work, there’s a void in Sharon’s heart, and she craves rules and structure. The books she devours give her a glimpse of life in a faraway country: England. And although none of the characters in the books she reads look like her, her insatiable curiosity eventually leads Sharon to beg to be sent to boarding school, just like her literary heroes.
Reality comes as a shock. Being the only dark-skinned girl in a sea of posh white girls is a stark contrast to life in her warm homeland, where white people are a small minority. Sharon thrives in her new life. She does well academically, and horse-riding brings her self-discipline and joy in equal measure. But something is not quite right. Writing weekly letters to her mother, she begins to doubt whether this cold country is the right place for her. Is England really her home, and is this where she truly belongs?
You will be swept off your feet by the unputdownable story of Sharon Maas’ extraordinary childhood in British Guiana and England, a beautiful and inspiring tale of self-discovery, determination and chasing your dreams.
Praise for Sharon Maas:
‘If only I could give this book 100 stars rather than 5!... This book is epic, a mesmerizing book of strength through unimaginable losses… Heartbreaking and beautifully written this is a gripping tale of bravery… One of the best and most memorable historical books I’ve ever read!’ Deanne’s Book Thoughts, 5 stars
‘Astoundingly beautiful, incredibly powerful, a powerhouse of a book. This book is sheer perfection. Please read it. If you don’t you’re missing out.’ NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars
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