Maame suffers a bit because I’ve read a several similar books over the past few years, each about women emerging from the pressures and stifling cloister of their family lives to become a fully actualized person. This novel offers a couple of new twists, but the author’s voice isn’t especially distinctive. Still, there are some observations here that make it a perfectly worthwhile read.
Twentysomething British Maddie – known as Maame – lives a life circumscribed by her place in her family. Her father has late-stage Parkinson’s’ disease, and she often only gets time away from taking care of him when his hired caretaker, Dawoud, comes over. That time away often involves her acting as a cog in a corporate machine at her day job, where she works as a personal assistant. Her mother, meanwhile, has been in Ghana since Maddie’s grandfather passed away a year earlier. She runs a hostel with her brother, and calls in to push Maame to go to church and find a husband. Thus does all of the household’s responsibility fall on Maame’s shoulders. And she’s sick of it.
When her mother tells her she’s going to come home after so long, Maame decides to take a big step into adulthood. She agrees to flat share with two other people – Jo and Cam – and then begins to cast about for dates. Unfortunately, she’s also been fired from her job for blatantly racist reasons, and her co-workers urge her to speak out about the situation. She gets a new job at Orange Tree Publishing working for a woman named Penny, again as a PA. Thanks to this job and her newfound circle of friends, Maame truly begins to come into her own, and even goes out on her first date in eight years with a guy named Ben. Because she’s lived so close to home for such a long time, she has a lot of firsts to get through, including losing her virginity and experiencing her first major heartbreak. Family secrets and work rivalries also complicate her life. Will she be able to stay independent?
Maame hit me in a lot of personal places. If you’ve ever put your own life on hold to help care for a parent, you’ll understand Maddie’s guilt and frustration. She constantly consults Google because she doesn’t have an internal compass and doesn’t know a lot about the business of sex, due to a mother who is often absent and leans heavily upon God while ignoring matters of biology. Her brother has long ago left the family nest and expects Maame to take on all of his duties. Everything has fallen on her. Ergo, I understood why she lied so often about her life and circumstances.
I must add that the romantic quotient here is pretty low – this is a coming-of-age story about a woman who embraces her singleness and finally learns about the joys of sex. There isn’t even a happily ever after to be had here.
While I didn’t consider that a problem, I did take issue with the book’s very slow pacing. There are long, dry stretches in the beginning of the novel that cause it to go by far too slowly. Just before the midpoint a major event occurs and everything starts to spring to life and go faster, which is what earns the book its B grade. Maame will be a wonderful ride for anyone who’s ever bloomed late, and thrived.
Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local bookshop
Visit our Amazon Storefront
Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier
|Review Date:||February 2, 2023|
|Review Tags:||AoC | PoC|