book review: Maame by Jessica George

 by Jessica George

Overview: Maddie is making her way through life as a girl in her early twenties in London. At 25, she's finally itching to spread her wings, but being largely responsible for her father who is battling Parkinson's disease has kept her home while her mother and brother live their ideal lives. Feeling stuck at home, socially, and in a job she took just to have any job, Maddie realizes that it's time for some major changes even if they go against everything she's ever known. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 4 Maddie is immediately so lovable and relatable, and you seriously just want to give her a hug. As a fellow late bloomer, I related to her feeling of complete loss at how to start checking off life milestones when you feel like you've missed some steps everyone else went through. She's devoted to her family and always listened to their rules perhaps with a bit too much fealty, so making her own rules and taking bigger steps presents a lot of mental friction. It's heartening to watch Maddie step into moving out and navigating flatmates, negotiating early job challenges, and exploring dating in London. While she struggles with all of these things, the book is ultimately largely heartening. 

While Maddie is by far the most developed character in the book, her mother stands as another major figure. Back from Ghana to finally take over caring for Maddie's father, she brings home complicated feelings for Maddie. She starts by seeming like a cold, removed figure, but with time, she slowly opens up small parts of herself to Maddie, allowing her to understand in a way she never did before. 

This in no way detracted from the book, but it is interesting to note that the majority of the characters that pop up feel less like fully realized people that run off the page and more like symbolic relationships for Maddie to navigate through and meditate on the meaning of. In this particular internal story that covers such a wide spanning growing up arc, it really works.

Plot: 5 If you're not a huge literary fiction fan because of the pacing but want to read some contemporary fiction, Maame is a great choice. It has all the deep, emotional probing that I love from literary fiction, but in being a delayed coming of age story, it captures much of what makes YA contemporary plots so consuming. The pacing is fast and there's always one area or another of Maddie's life that's having a wholesale crisis or a resolution. I think Maame has been so well received because it hits the perfect balance between keeping the story moving and really deeply exploring an entire emotional spectrum. 

Writing: 5 I love the voice in this book. Maddie is nervous and a people pleaser, but deep down, she's assertive and courageous, and the real journey of this book is watching Maddie come into her own voice and shuck off everyone else's scripts for her–whether it's her mother's narrow interpretation of Christianity and tradition or feeling like she has to blend into the background as much as possible as one of the only Black women in the office. It's a wonderful metamorphosis to watch, and while the book is quite sad and heavily deals in grief, the overwhelming emotion it leaves you with is hope, which isn't often promised in these kinds of books. It's one of those rare gems that's able to talk about the many disparate parts of life that makes us who we are without becoming unbalanced or losing threads along the way. I look forward to reading more books from Jessica George. 

more on reading, writing, and me:

into romance with Kate Bromley

book review: the guest

book review: book lovers

book review: Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine


Popular posts from this blog

You'd Be Home By Now by Kathleen Glasgow: YA Book Review

Hole In The Middle

Happy Place by Emily Henry: romance review