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Maame - Review

*I received an E-Arc from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. All views are my own*

Alright, back with another review. I stacked up my January reading month in November, and I’m finally getting to them all. Maame by Jessica George was one of the titles. This book was not what I expected to reign in 2023. Even though I teetered on the lines of interest and ‘ahh, it sounds cool, but I’ll probably never pick it up,’ I gave it a go anyway. My feelings about the book are the latter.

"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, 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."

I had the chance to duel reading and listening to the audio version, narrated by Heather Agyepong. Agyepong gave a voice I never would’ve pictured for the main character. Even after finishing the book weeks ago, I can still hear Agyepong’s narration ranging in my ears. She did a memorable job.

Maame is a coming-of-age story about a young woman, Maddie, who starts to experience life outside of caring for her ill father and neglectful family. We watch the naivety of her actions and thoughts as she works through how she’s supposed to navigate life and tackle who she wants to be.

I won’t stall, but – I almost DNFed the book. It was prolonged initially for me and didn’t start to pick up until after tragedy struck. I want to say it’s because I couldn’t fully connect with the character. If anything, I resonated with Maddie’s brother and his selfish ways. It sounds bad, but the cultural differences in how children are supposed to care for their parents when they get older never sat right with me. I know all the debates about Americans and how they treat their own family, but I also think that kids don’t have a chance to live their own lives when they have that weight to carry on their backs. This is where I feel Maddie falters.

I did appreciate the conversations and topics about mental health, female sexuality, adult peer pressure, and family expectations. The more and more I read books with these types of issues with open dialog, the more I feel like the world is learning to talk about the elephant in the room freely. I also liked how Maddie read the fuck out of everybody when she hit her breaking point. The sense of entitlement her family held pushed her to be a better woman of character.

Overall I rated this book 3-stars. Again the book is not what I expected, though I didn’t know what to expect. Maame was not exactly for me, but I appreciated the writing nonetheless.

Maame debuts on January 31, 2023.

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