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Maame by Jessica George
Contemporary fiction



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by Jessica George
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Quick take

Coming of age is hard work but this heartwarming story of self-discovery has plenty of laughs and wisdom to spare too.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Sad


  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Millenial


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Immigration



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.

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Why I love it

Finding yourself in the company of great characters is one of the truest pleasures of reading, and it always feels like alchemy when a writer is able to create a character so fully realized they seem liable to hop off the page and shake your hand. But such is the feat that Jessica George pulls off in Maame.

At the center of this story is Maddie, a young black British woman who is a bit of a late bloomer. When we first meet her, Maddie is stuck in a dead-end job and spends most of her time outside work caring for her father who has Parkinson’s. But when her overbearing mother returns from her latest trip to Ghana, it presents Maddie with a chance to finally kick start her coming of age journey. She goes through all the classic trials and tribulations of modern #adulting from online dating to learning to find her voice at work. It is thrilling to watch her come into her own and learn through trial and error what she really wants from life (and who she wants to share it with). And through it all, Maddie had me in stitches. She possesses a distinctive sense of humor that shines through on every page.

Maame is a warm and wise novel that wears its heart on its sleeve. I was totally rooting from Maddie just a few pages in and know you will be too, reader. This is not a story to be missed.

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