Maame by Jessica George is a coming-of-age novel with a female protagonist who grapples with her station in life. Maddie is a young 20-something living in London, but her life is far from glamorous. Her father has late-stage Parkinson's and she lives at home with him to be his main caretaker. Her brother is off living his best life, while her mother is gone for a year at a time to Ghana, living her own life. Maddie holds an assistant role at a publishing firm where she feels like the token Black person with a dispensable job. While her needs are pushed to the bottom of her list, she cares for everyone to the point of utter exhaustion. When her father passes away, Maddie grapples with crippling guilt and grief, while trying to establish her life outside of her family.
One thing that made Maame unique is that Maddie's story is told almost from her perspective, including her internal dialogue, text messages with friends, and random life questions she searches on Google. It made it fun to read because you feel like you are inside Maddie's head and you are feeling all the emotions along with her. Maddie is awkward, sweet and a bit niave. She moves out of her childhood home when her mom comes back from Ghana and hopes that this is the time where she can truly live her life. She wants to be a carefree young woman, fall in love, make friends and bad decisions. She gets a small taste of this before her life crashes down.
Aspects of mental health, specifically depression, are highlighted in Maame in such a supportive way. I love that authors are incorporating aspects of mental health into their characters because it makes them relatable and three dimensional. Maddie's struggles with grief are all too familiar with many of us, as well as some of the major life events she experiences when it comes to friendship, family dynamics, dating and navigating sexual experiences.
I thought Maame was a really sweet coming-of-age novel with relatable themes, as well as bias and micro-aggressions that many Black women like Maddie face on a daily basis. Maame is endearing, quirky and empathetic on so many levels. Maame by Jessica George is set for publishing on January 31, 2023. Click any of the title links in this review to purchase a copy!
Content warning: racism/microaggressions, death of parent, grief, depression, coerced sexual encounter
Read if you like:
Coming of age stories.
Relatable female protagonist.
Complex family dynamics.
Stories incorporating grief and mental health.