by Jessica George
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Pub Date 31 Jan 2023 | Archive Date 21 Feb 2023
A Today Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick
"Sparkling." —The New York Times
"An utterly charming and deeply moving portrait of the joys—and the guilt—of trying to find your own way in life." —Celeste Ng, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Our Missing Hearts
"Lively, funny, poignant . . . Prepare to fall in love with Maddie. I did!" —Bonnie Garmus, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Lessons in Chemistry
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.
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.
"Meeting Maame feels like falling in love for the first time: warm, awkward, joyous, a little bit heartbreaking and, most of all, unforgettable." —Xochitl Gonzalez, New York Times bestselling author of Olga Dies Dreaming
"An utterly charming and deeply moving portrait of the joys––and the guilt––of trying to find your own way in life. At heart, MAAME is about seeing life, your loved ones, and yourself in a new light, and Maddie’s journey will resonate with anyone who’s had to grow up—or who’s still trying to."
––Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere
"A wry, compassionate debut novel...Full of dry humor and entirely relatable moments, Maame is a warmhearted, often hilarious account of one woman's journey through her awkward yet exciting 20s. Readers will root for Maddie to find self-confidence and happiness, both at work and in her personal life...George's narrative is a tribute to all women who make the effort––no matter how difficult or confusing––to take control of their own lives." ––Shelf Awareness
"I loved every page of this beautiful, heartwarming, empowering book. The world is going to fall in love with Maddie—she stole quietly into my heart and made herself at home there. An exceptional debut from an incredibly exciting new talent."
––Beth O'Leary, bestselling author of The Flatshare
"A tender and absorbing novel." ––Peace Adzo Medie, author of His Only Wife
"This is such a special book. Warm, beautifully drawn and instantly engaging, George tackles pain, loss and longing with the lightest of touches. I learned so much from Maddie, even as I was rooting for her to reclaim her power and jump-start her own life." ––Lauren Bravo, author of The Second Chance Store
"Meeting MAAME feels like falling in love for the first time: warm, awkward, joyous, a little bit heartbreaking and, most of all, unforgettable. Jessica George viscerally renders the exquisite pain and poignant hilarity of coming of age as a woman today while perfectly capturing the extra thickets of thorns that lay in the paths of women of color in all white spaces. Maame is so many women I have known and loved: experiencing firsts, coming to hard revelations and choosing to bite into life with with full, open hearts."
––Xochitl Gonzalez, New York Times bestselling author of Olga Dies Dreaming
"A poignant coming-of-age tale about finding strength, hope and courage when life gets too much and leaves you with more unanswered questions. Maame's quiet confidence is true to life and liberating." ––Lizzie Damilola Blackburn, author of Yinka, Where is Your Huzband?
"Lively, funny, poignant . . . Prepare to fall in love with Maddie. I did!" ––Bonnie Garmus, New York Times bestselling author of Lessons in Chemistry
"I inhaled MAAME, a brilliant coming-of-age story. Maddie is such a relatable heroine, her voice honest, warm, heart-breaking and heart-healing. It felt truly modern, yet somehow timeless. I adored it." ––Nikki May, author of Wahala
"This book is going to be EVERYWHERE next year. A truly sparkling coming of age tale. Vividly drawn, witty and heartbreaking." ––Julie Owen Moylan, author of That Green-Eyed Girl
Available on NetGalley
If I could give this more than five stars, I would. At first, I was frustrated with our main character, Maddie, because I felt like she was just a doormat in all aspects of her life, but having lost a parent in the recent past, the way Jessica George writes about Maddie’s grief and how she dealt with her own loss was powerful. It was fascinating to watch Maddie try to figure out who she was and where she fit in this world, and it was heartening to see her learn to stand up for herself and grapple with the emotions tied to the complexities of family relationships…all while trying to finally be her own person out in “the real world”. I loved her friends, Nia and Shu and the way they were there for her no matter what. I also appreciated the ties to her Ghanaian culture and the importance/significance of her name in the story. I’ve always believed names are important and impactful parts of a person’s identity, and her story highlights this beautifully.
Jessica George’s Maame is beautifully written and so moving. The emotion and thought she put into her character brings you into the book and guides you through Maddie’s life as if you were right along with her. You can feel the love and loyalty she has for her family, you can feel the push and pull to keep her life balanced. This book kept me fully engaged from start to finish. This is a winner for sure.
Jessica George's debut novel Maame tells the story of a woman's candid love, loyalty and devotion to her family. It is emotionally charged and contains relatable scenarios that will bring you to your knees.
Twenty-five-year-old Maddie's life in London is far from ideal. She struggles to balance her life as caretaker of her critically ill father, target of her mom's verbal tirades, and a difficult career. After her mom returns from an extended trip to Ghana, Maddie moves out on her own for the first time. It's her opportunity to finally explore the life experiences that many girls discover in their teens. When Maddie begins to open herself up to the possibility of a romantic relationship, tragedy strikes leaving her emotionally depleted. As a result, Maddie is forced to confront her non-conforming family and decide where she fits into the larger world. Is Maddie able to achieve her potential?
Maane is touching, witty, and deals with current topics in our culture. Readers quickly become engaged in the fate of the fictional characters. Jessica George's writing is straight from the heart with liberal doses of humor sprinkled in.
Maane by Jessica George is available February 7, 2023. (5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Thank you, NetGalley and St. Martin's Press, for allowing me to review this brilliant e-book. Your kindness is appreciated!
Maame was so busy raising herself,taking care of her ailing father, getting her college education, and then working a demanding job with a boss who requires a minder, that she didn't get around to dating or having much of a social life. She loses her father, and her job before she finds what kind of career and man she really wants and sees the tree value of her Ghanaian background.
A beautiful and realistic coming of age story that is heartwarming, heartbreaking, witty, stylish, and necessary.
What a book! I loved it so so much! Maddie (also called Maame) is such an interesting character. She is relatable, even though her experience is far from what I have lived. Her emotional development throughout this story is incredible and the book is filled with many amazing insights into dating, family, and emotional balance. Some unexpected turn of events were in there as well which made me cheer even more for the authors brilliance.
This will hands down be one of the best books I’ve read this year! Such a sad, powerful coming of age story for those in their 20s still trying to find their way.
I enjoyed the representation of mental health within the black community as well as the realities of micro-aggressions and working in predominantly white work spaces. This was a laugh out loud touching story of family and culture.
This is for all the women who had to grow up too fast. That didn’t get the family they deserved.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martins’ Press for another amazing read. I look forward to what this author has coming in the future. My full review will be posted on my Instagram @readwithgen
Let's talk about Jessica George's debut novel Maame. I received a digital ARC to read and review via NetGalley and I am so incredibly grateful.
Protagonist Maddie Wright has left home for the first time and needs to figure out how to experience life and who she wants to be in that life. Though I often felt like she was a passive observer in her own life, the more I read, the more I realized that that was exactly who I was when I first starting living life on my own terms. Following Maddie's story felt like going back in time and reliving that journey into adulthood.
Jessica's writing felt raw and honest, like it came from personal experience (and I have no reason to believe it didn't - my own life experiences feel very similar to Maddie's). Each new character that was introduced reminded me of various people I have met in my own life over the years, grounding the story in deeply into my own reality.
Were there parts that felt a bit predictable?
Yes, but I also read a lot of books and watch a lot of television.
Did that take away from my enjoyment of the book as a whole?
Maame is the story that we all need right now. It reminds us of the naivety we have all dealt with at one point in our lives and that we all experience life differently, everyone is dealing with their own unique set of problems, and you can never truly know what someone else is going through.
My only complaint about this novel is how much I cried while reading it. Jessica's portrayal of grief and the grieving process was spot on, bringing me back to recent losses in my own life that had me incapacitated in much the same way. But never fear! This story also has healthy doses of humor sprinkled in amongst the heartache.
Love and loss, family and culture, laughter and tears, and a tiny hint of some spice thrown in made this novel a joy to read from beginning to end.
Maame by Jessica George releases February 7, 2023 and is available to preorder now wherever books are sold.
Maame is extremely fresh, engaging, powerful novel! It’s about family, grief, self growth, guilt, regrets, starting over! It’s inspirational, memorable, unique, playing a marvelous melody with the strings of your heart, embracing your soul, presenting a different approach!
Maddie Wright is not happy to grow up early, carrying extra responsibilities of life! At the age of 25, most of her friends left the city for going to the college, flirting, partying, going out, sharing a loft with room mates, exploring the life, traveling around the world.
For last 8 years Maddie’s life completely changed after finding out her father’s Parkinson diagnosis. Her mother kept leaving the country to help her brother in Ghana to take care of family business for at least one year and coming back later as her brother kept spending time with his friends’ family for years.
And now her father’s health condition gets deteriorated as her brother keeps making excuses not to visit his family home and her mother keeps insisting she’s so busy in Ghana unless she calls for borrowing money from Maddie’s saving account!
She is the only one who takes care of her father, getting trapped in PA job at theater company, dealing with the mood swings of her boss.
Her mother calls her Maame which is a word in Twi language with different meanings. But most common meaning is woman and Maddie resents her nickname because she doesn’t live her life as a naive, inexperienced young girl and directly grew up to be a woman.
But now she has an opportunity to take a break from her all responsibilities and do things like other 25 years old young woman do! Her mother flies back from Ghana and advises her to move another apartment to live her independent life. For the first her mother will be the one who will take care of her own husband!
This means Maddie can start from fresh. She already made her list.
Here’s the new Maddie’s independence manifesto:
-Drink alcohol when offered
-Always say yes to social events
-Wear new clothes
-Cook new food
-Have different experiences (Travel? Brunch?)
-Try weed or cigarettes at least once (but don't get addicted!)
-Go on dates
-Lose your virginity.
Challenge accepted! Maddie is ready to shine! But you know what they say: you make plans and God laughs!
There’s a new and more challenging chapter is about to open in Maddie’s life. Will she get through new challenges life throws at her?
This is incredible, thought provoking work with genuine and realistic approach to the grief, dysfunctional family relationships, becoming minority at the work place, exploring sexuality, romantic involvements, your capabilities and your unfinished search for happiness.
During my reading I felt for Maddie! I gritted my teeth when I witness her communication with her family members and some of her friends. I felt sad for her but I also respected her!
Overall: this well written, perfectly developed book definitely deserves five stars or more!
I loved Maddie’s compelling journey!
Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
Maame means woman in Twi, and it is also Maddie’s nickname since childhood. She’s been struggling under the weight of her family’s expectations for her entire life. She is a caretaker for her ailing father, a main financial contributor for the family, and the one who is present and dependable. Not only that, but Maddie wants to figure out who she truly is and what she wants out of life. Throughout the course of the novel, Maddie is faced with difficulties such as grief, depression, regret, and racism in the workplace and in relationships. Her strength, wit, and inner monologues will resonate with so many.
This is an achingly beautiful, tender hearted debut novel. I truly loved it. It’s such a well written coming of age story embedded with loss, grief, romance, friendship, and finding the place and people you belong with. Maddie is a narrator who you can relate to, laugh with, cry with, and empathize with. Ultimately, this story is full of heart, laughs, tears, and satisfaction. I’d recommend this book to anyone and everyone!
Thank you so much to Netgalley and St. Martin’s publishing for the opportunity to read this eARC in exchange for my honest review. I’m so grateful!
I really enjoyed this book because it so REAL. Growing up in an immigrant family, and being the first born Canadian, I could relate to a lot of the story.
The story is about Madeleine (Maddie) who leads a very quiet and sheltered life, due to her circumstances & Ghanian upbringing. Her dad has been sick for years and she's been his primary carer, with her brother James not really being around much and her mother spending alternating years in Ghana. She's 25 and her mother is coming back for the next year, so she decides it's a good time to move out and start living life. She experiences many firsts and finally starts to find herself on her own terms.
I personally loved how raw this story is. It can very isolating living in a 1st world culture with parents set on their mother land's traditions. This story really brings Maddie's reality to life. I would encourage everyone to read it if only to see other's realities through a different lens.
I loved this charming coming of age story. The character of Maddie was vividly brought to life. I found myself really pulling for her and wishing for good things. Jessica George deftly handles grief, loss, and racism in a way that breaks and heals the reader's heart.
Maddie is 25-years-old and still living at home. She’s the primary care taker of her ailing father. Her brother lives locally but leaves all the work to her. Her mother spends much of her the time in Ghana running a family business. Maddie is lonely and overwhelmed. She hates her day job, too. She has few friends and a nonexistent social life. Then some things change. All of sudden she crashes head first into an age appropriate life and she is left reeling.
This book is SO good. Maddie is a lovely character. She’s sweet, funny, and genuine. You will root for her. The family dynamics are interesting with Maddie’s parents being immigrants from Ghana. Maddie and her brother were born and raised in London. Maddie has to reconcile her western upbringing with the traditional role she’s expected to play within her family. Maddie has some cathartic moments and it’s nice to see good things happen to a good person.
A charming and captivating first novel! I loved, loved this book, found it inspiring, thought-provoking and timely. It’s a coming of age story for a young woman as she suffers the loss of her father and ventures into the world. Deals with racial discrimination in a thoughtful and caring way that was actually quite inspiring to me. The book is funny, poignant and makes us consider our relationships with our friends, our moms and as moms. I think most women would enjoy it. I was personally touched as my husband has Parkinson’s so it was a book written for me and to help me in the coming years..
Such a beautiful story- broken up with some comic relief every now and then- but it doesn’t pull away from the main essence of family within this story. I can definitely tell this will be a hit of the year, and a popular one among book clubs. I for one cannot wait to get my hand on a physical copy when it’s released!
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to. Receive an arc in exchange for my honest review.
Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an electronic ARC of this novel.
Maddie Wright is a 25 year old Londoner who has a low paying and unfulfilling job and spends the rest of her time taking care of her ailing father. Her mother spends the majority of time working in Ghana, and her older brother just makes excuses as to why he can't help.
When her mother comes back to London for an extended visit, Maddie takes the opportunity to strike out on her own and tries to discover who she really is now that she is free to be a young adult. She moves out, finds a promising new job and starts to date and make new friends. But soon, tragedy strikes, and she's left to pick up the pieces of her life and decide who she is going forward.
Maame, by Jessica George, is a well written, emotional journey about finding yourself and dealing with the roles other people put you in. It deals with grief, family, expectations, online dating, gender, the immigrant experience and many other thought provoking issues. I thought this was a very entertaining book and will be thinking about this one for a while.
Maame is a strong story about the truth we all live within our families. It has a truth and rawness that takes your breath away. It shows how an individual can grow and blossom to become the best they can be.
Jessica George moved me deeply with her debut novel. The sacrifice and love of a daughter seen through the lens of Ghanaian culture, made for a brilliant read. Maame lives in London with her ailing father, and what unfolds in her journey of awakening to her authentic self is raw, relatable, funny, sad. Ms George evoked so many emotions with sharp prose and dialog. Truly impressed with this one, highly recommend!
I was completely sucked into this compelling coming of age novel. George deftly handles difficult topics (grief, depression, racism), and Maddie is a character that you are rooting for from the first page to the last. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for my gifted ARC!
I couldn’t put this book down. I fell in love with the main character, Maddie Wright- the way she took care of her loved ones, sacrificing her own needs, until she found a way that she could both take care of others while caring for herself as well. I laughed with her, I cried alongside her, and the way George wrote this book, I felt like she was a friend I was getting to know.
This book had two markers of what I define as a great book: a character who really comes alive for me and makes me want to get to know them, and the kind of writing I want to save and reread portions of because of how moved I was by it. There were many passages in this book that moved me to my core.
One of those passages was when a friend of Maddie’s talks with her about how she’s navigating her grieving process after losing a loved one, and it’s a narrative I read and reread because of how much it hit home for me, too.
Maame by Jessica George is hands down a 5 star read for me. It is available February 7, 2023.
Thank you to St. Martins Press and NetGalley for the Advanced Review Copy that was provided for my review. I will be anxiously awaiting Jessica George’s next book.
I love this book so much; It's hard to believe it's a debut writer! Maddie, a young Ghanian woman living in London, takes care of her father with Parkinson's Disease while working at an entry level job and navigating her difficult family. She's a 25 year old with the weight of the world on her shoulders, an old soul. Things keep piling on, she suddenly loses her job, her Dad's health deteriorates, and her absent mother arrives from Ghana. Maddie, working through her grief and depression has a lot of grit. She is an amazingly fresh voice. As Maddie figures things out, Maame will have you crying on one page and laughing out loud on the next. What a great debut!
Maame is me and i am here!! My God did this novel gag and read tf outta me!! I think almost every first/second gen child of immigrants can relate the hell of out Maddie and her complex relationships with her parents and siblings. I am just blown away by the writing and these fleshed out characters! Maame’s not perfect and never claims to be but she has suffered under the immerse pressure of being the present child! Of being the present daughter! Of carrying her family’s burdens and problems and ignoring her wants and her desires and her need! A people pleaser! A classic case of high functioning depression! Maame is raw and honest and i loved when Maddie decided to move out and live her life! Her awkwardness, anxiety, dealing with micro-aggressions in interracial relationships, her professional life and that of her flatmates. I am very bias hence the 5 stars. Im rooting for all my Ghanaian sisters especially those who can write their ass off. Miss George has written a relatable novel that inspires hope, flesh out grief and leaves you feeling seen! Maame, to me, is an unforgettable novel, that also humanizes parents and their sacrifices without taking away too much from the points that need to be driven! Overall an amazing and enjoyable novel that I highly recommend!!! Cannot wait to see what else Ms.George has in store!! Thank you Netgalley for the ARC for an honest review!!
Thanks so much to the publisher and to NetGalley for giving me access to this book. Great book! It is so well written! I loved the character -Maddie. This book checks every box for me as a reader. I will be recommending this book. Thanks again for letting have a chance to read it.
This book was oh so beautifully written, with so much heart and soul! You walk through the growth of the family an the grief , self doubt, and then the grits of starting over! It was absolutely everything and more! I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with a book as much as I have this one!
Sweet Maddie had to grow up way before her time. After years of caring for her I’ll father, her mother finally sees fit to come back home an let her daughter live her life, as she should have been all along! This is a book of sacrifice, to show just what you will do for the ones u love, but there are always consequences to doing so! I can’t emphasize the heartwarming and heartbreaking beauty this book is! Read it. You will be forever changed ‘
A first novel for the author and really good.
The central character -Madeleine-Maddie-Maame (twi in her native Ghanian language) is the central character in the book.
Through her, George covers so many topics-illness and the toll on the caregiver, marriage dynamics, racism, pathologic family relationships, depression, true friendship, work discrimination, and Maame’s sexual growth and maturation. There is something in this book that everyone can relate to. In short, a book I was hesitant to read and didn’t think I would enjoyed-wow, was I surprised.
There are some books that are so relatable that you cannot put it down because you are just rooting for the character. This was the book that for me.
I grew up similar to Maddie by being a late bloomer who constantly questions their thoughts, feelings and actions and how it effects others. But this story is more than just a coming of age story with a likable main character. The author does a great job of examining race, culture, familial relationships, guilt, and mental health.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to seeing what this author does next!
This was so much more than I expected it would be. I loved it so much as it spoke to my heart and soul. I'm certainly not Black or Ghanaian, but boy did I easily identify with Maddie. Which further emphasizes the fact that we are all just people, struggling to get through life without hurting others while trying to carve out our own piece of happiness. This is about finding out who you are, where you fit, and learning that not only is it okay to take up space in this world, but you should puff yourself up and claim just a bit more space. Maddie touched me and resonated deeply. She is quiet, introspective, a bit naive and innocent, unsure, funny. Watching her come into her own and claim her place in the world was a joy. When she finds her voice and stakes her claim, I celebrated with her!!
I would like to start by saying thank you to Netgalley and St Martins publishing for an ARC of Maame in exchange for my honest review.
Maddie is the youngest of 2. In her mid 20’s, she is the main caregiver to her father who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Her mother travels to Ghana frequently and her brother can’t be bothered to help. Her mother has given her the nickname “Maame” since she was a young girl. Woman. The responsible one.
I found this book very relatable. Only I was fortunate to have all 3 of my siblings and my sister-in-law to help take care of our parents when they got older. . We lost our father 4 years and 5 months ago. And our mother 13 months later. Our father was the sole provider for years and our mother was in charge of tending to us. Throughout my childhood, I really never heard my dad say “I love you”. I know he loved us. He just never said it. I would say I love you and hear a grumble in response. As time went on, they got older, and the tables were turned. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and my father was diagnosed with Cancer. We became the caregivers. I began to see a different side of my dad. A nurturer. We would understand the “I love you” response, not just a grumble. Maddie attributes it to the way her father was raised. The same way we attributed it to the way ours was raised.
This book made me cry. It made me chuckle. It made me think and reminisce. I found it hard to put down once I started reading it.
A beautiful and moving story centering around Maddie, also known as Maame, as she find her way through difficult circumstances and life changing events toward a fuller and more authentic life. Jessica George weaves an engrossing, nuanced and fresh tale of a woman coming to terms with her past, reimagining her future and learning to love herself and others better. It's the sign of a great book when you come to consider the protagonist a beloved friend and can't wait to catch up with them again when the next book comes out.
Thank you to NetGalley and St.Martins press for the Arc copy, what a fantastic read!
Great book! Such a wonderful story!
You hear, "I could not put it down"? Actually true for me with this one.
This book will stay with me for a long time.
Thank you for the advanced copy, St. Martin's Press!
This was such a beautiful coming-of-age story of a young woman, Maddie, and her life in London. The portrayal of loyalty, family strife, grief, dating, and love was so beautifully written and depicted that there were many times I felt overwhelming grief and sadness for Maddie's story. Even though her background, culture, and experiences were completely different from mine, Maddie is still incredibly relatable. I really enjoyed this book and Maddie's charachter - would love to read more about Maddie as her life unfolds!
First off, how beautiful is this book cover? It's one of the things that drew me to requesting it (Thanks NetGalley). But besides the cover, I honestly really loved this book. It discussed so many different topics that so many women (maame) deal with.
I really loved the character of Maddie. I feel like some of the struggles she went through (moving out on her own, making friends, finding her place at work, romantic relationships etc.) are things that most young women can relate to and have experience with.
The author also discusses topics like race (racism in the workplace, fetish etc) and while I cannot relate to this myself (as a white woman) I can appreciate the conversations Maddie had with her close friends. It honestly felt like I was listening in on their conversations.
At times I felt bad for Maddie, due to her family duties and role within her family. I honestly am still not sure if I like her mother (lol).
I also really loved how Maddie often asked Google questions about topics she had no information on. I thought this was a nice touch by the author, and made the character even more relatable.
I also had this sense of impeding doom for the majority of the novel, that something bad was going to happen - and while many 'bad' things did happen to Maddie (one being the worst of all - no spoilers though) she always came out on top and continued to move forward.
Finally, I appreciated the topic of Mental Health being covered and discussed throughout the novel, especially with Maddie having the feeling of "lots of bad things happen to people all the time, why am I having such a hard time'.
To conclude, I think this is such a great 'coming of age' story in a sense for young women and girls and really appreciated the story Jessica told.
I'm looking forward to reading anything else by this Author!
**Thank you to Net Galley for an advance copy of this book.
Jessica George's first novel is a powerful one. There is so much happening in this book, from traditional and cultural values coupled with family dynamics to self-growth, independence, navigating romantic situations, and more. Beautifully woven together, the novel follows Maddie, a 20-something Ghanaian woman living in London and taking care of her ailing father, who is battling late-stage Parkinson's. With an absent mother and brother, the physical and financial burden falls on Maddie, or "Maame's," shoulders.
To see Maddie grow, learn, pivot, and grow some more throughout the course of the book feels so incredibly real. Her internal struggle is one that feels incredibly relatable. Family is complicated, establishing your independence and finding your place in the world is complicated, romance is complicated, friendships are complicated... there's so much explored throughout this novel that is sure to resonate with many readers. I'm also a stickler when it comes to how books end, and this one ended in a really satisfying way—which I don't say often!
You will not regret picking up this book. I can't wait for her to write more!
I absolutely loved this novel. The story deals with family dynamics, grief, depression, guilt, regrets, and growth. The main character, Madeline/Maddie touched my heart, and her story and experiences are something that will stick with me.
Maddie is also called Maame by her mother, which in the Twi language can mean woman. For most of Maddie's life, she has been the woman of her family and that title has translated into the responsible one, the caretaker, the fixer, the family's financial resource, etc. Having those roles has really denied Maddie a childhood and being free to live her own life. For the past several years, Maddie has been the primary caretaker for her dad, who has Parkinson's disease. Maddie's mom spends most of her time in Ghana taking care of a family hostel and her older brother is off living his own. life. Because of this, Maddie spends most of her time at home and doesn't date, have very many close friends or the normal experiences of a 25-year-old.
As the story unfolds, we watch Maddie denying her own true feelings, pleasing others and suppressing her own anger/grief. At a point in the story, a tragedy unfolds, and we watch Maddie hit her breaking point and all of the emotions associated with it.
Maddie is a strong person and although her life isn't easy, she is resilient. You don't want to miss this inspirational story and find out more about Maddie's journey.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press / MacMillan Audio Influencers Program for an eARC and early access to the audiobook of Maame by Jessica George in exchange for an honest review.
CW: death of a parent, terminal illness, mental illness, panic attacks, suicidal ideation, racism, grief, biphobia, homophobia, infidelity, see full list on StoryGraph.
This is one of the strongest books I’ve read all year. Our main character, Maddie, is navigating her “second coming of age” i.e. mid-20s, and is trying to figure out her life as a single, working woman, while also caring for her father who is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. This novel expertly explores grief and new adulthood in a way that felt reverent and understanding of its unique brand of difficulty. Maddie is so overwhelmed by this process of differentiation from family, as we all inevitably find ourselves, and yet handles being thrown back into the tumult with graceful and honest communication, striving to the best of her ability to be her authentic self.
A poignant debut and a beautiful coming of age story. I identified and empathized with Maddie so much. Even though she is 25, and not a teenager like many coming of age stories, I found this story to more truly reflect a woman growing into her own. On top of that Maddie has to endure racism, cultural bias, and familial expectations. It’s no wonder that she is only just now trying to forge her own path and determine her identity. Women, young and old alike, will find it easy to identify with Maddie and root for her as she defines herself as a woman and what she desires in life. My favorite part was Maddie’s growth over the course of the novel and finally finding her voice and speaking up for herself. This should be on everyone’s must read list for 2023. I hope to see it picked up by book clubs for even wider exposure.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
“Comparison is no friend of mental health”
This debut thriller will tug at your heartstrings and have you rooting for 25 year old Maddie. She’s had to mature much faster than kids are supposed to as she plays head of household while her mother tends to their hostel in Ghana. Since she was 17 she is the sole caretaker of her father who has Parkinson’s. Depriving Maddie of maturing into adulthood, experiences, friendships, and relationships.
When her mother comes back for a year she makes the decision to set out on her own to finally live life. While Maddie has to endure death, friendship, dating, virginity, racism, cultural bias, and mental health you can’t do anything else but root for her and her happiness. A poignant story with bits of humor sprinkled in make this debut novel a compelling must read.
Ever want to read a book but you’re a little reluctant to start it because you know it will be intense, and you don’t know if you’re in the headspace for that? That’s how I felt about Maame. But oh man, I’m so glad I opened the book and started it because once I did, I couldn’t put it down. Maddie is going through it all - family dysfunction, a sick father, the weight of family responsibility, a job that undervalues her, and a life unfulfilled or experienced. And when she finally gets that first breath of freedom, she experiences a few firsts until the unthinkable happens. Following along with Maddie as she tries to navigate her new life and emotions, you will be put through the wringer…but the ending is so worth it! Jessica George has a fresh voice and Maddie is a unique lead character that I found to be so refreshing. Run, don’t walk, to grab this book and read it for yourself. This book will be talked about in 2023.
Wow. Just wow. Jessica George’s debut novel blew me away. From the exquisite writing, to the lessons we learn while trying to grow up, to the oldest child ‘syndrome;’ all of this felt so relatable to me. Despite not being a black Ghanaian, I completely connected to so much of this book. I won’t soon forget this incredible debut novel.
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