Book of the Month: Maame by Jessica George

I read the most delightful book. It’s called Maame. Now that I think of it, perhaps “delightful” is not the ideal descriptive? 

Welcome to the Book of the Month! We missed last month and I’m not sure why, but we’ll make it up.

The Book of this month is called Maame by Jessica George. Maame is a novel about Maddie—when we meet her, her life is a boring chaos. Her mother is never around; her father suffers from advanced-stage Parkinson’s and Maddie is his caretaker; her brother is the type of irritating hustler you don’t want around you; and at work, her boss is a nightmare and the work itself strips Maddie of reasons to live. Things aren’t looking good, to say the least. Then her mom returns from her latest trip and Maddie can finally move out. The book shows us how the self-acknowledged “late bloomer” attempts to find her footing, the numerous mistakes she makes during this attempt, and how she survives the impossible. Maame is a nickname given to Maddie by her mother. It is a name she has come to hate because of the burden in places on her and how it saddles her with responsibility that shouldn’t even be hers in the first place. It’s also this name—this forced-on identity—that jolts Maame to the life she deserves.

I loved loved this book. It was beautiful, touching, heartfelt and it found ways to deal with important themes without weighing us down emotionally or psychologically. We see friendship, love, courage, and the importance of belonging. Although it’s a heavy book (literally and metaphorically), it never felt too long or too much; it was just enough. The way the author tackles important issues like grief and mental health was perfect: it was realistic in showing us how those things creep into our lives to settle like it’s their territory; how they show up in the mundane; and how quick we are to accept them as inhabitants in their new homes—our minds. In fact, she weaves in so many themes—race, culture, immigration, mental health, grief, friendship, love, romance, family, religion, sex— so flawlessly that it never felt like there was too much going on. I’m not sure I’ve seen many different themes be so neatly packaged in an enjoyable or satisfying manner. 

Perhaps it’s because it’s an immigrant story in the U.K, but that typical pandering (to the white gaze and audience) you see in books by immigrants was absent. I’ve noticed that Black women writers from the UK seldom do that over explaining nonsense their counterparts in America are notorious for. Culture and identity shouldn’t be explained and performed and dumbed down tirelessly. They just are. Because that part wasn’t there, the flow of this book was beautiful. It almost felt natural to learn that in some parts of Ghanaian culture. For instance, that toenails and fingernails of a corpse get clipped before burial didn't seem absurd to me. It's just a part of their culture. Simple. It wasn’t even startling when an aunty was quizzing her (at the most inopportune moment) about her ability to speak Twi. It just was. The food wasn’t described in a corny way:  “the sizzling and fusion of tomatoes scintillated across me to remind me of Lagos” was not a thing here. This was indeed a worthy read. 

Now to what I didn’t like. I am particularly not a fan of a fiction bearing too much semblance to the author’s life. And in this case the similarities are uncanny. I just cannot absolutely stand that. I appreciate writing what you know. But I also want that to be a bit apart from you. Another slight thing was an unexpected surprise towards the end. Lol but that’s not a flaw per se as much as I thought if only life can be this seamless. But maybe I’m wrong and sometimes things really do work out? 

Who knows? In any case, this was a very worthy, enjoyable read. Will you be reading? 




  1. Sizzling tomato scintillated 🤣🤣🤣
    I dunno why my library doesn’t have this book but I’ve sha requested it. Fingers crossed.

    1. Hahahah listen. We've been through it in the hands of these authors