Book Review - Maame by Jessica George

This year's buzziest new book delivers what so many contemporary texts do. It delivers a brilliant protagonist with real world problems that keep you invested from beginning to end. While short on excitement, Maame (Pronounced ma-meh) feels real and tangible like other texts of similar nature: Queenie, Olga Dies Dream, Really Good, Actually and yet has enough differentiation to keep it in a class all its own.

This is going to sound a little blasphemous, but what differentiates Maame from the aforementioned titles is that the protagonist, Maddie, is a little boring. Maybe boring isn't the right word. Reserved? Private? Restrained? Something of that nature. This is a much tamer text than what many people will be used to. This is light on action or big revelations. Even when revelations do happen, Maddie handles most of them with a shrug. When confrontations occur, she becomes even more reclusive in nature. The result is a far more subtle and gentle text. The result is fully immersive and far more human.

The main plot revolves around Maddie, our Black 20-something year old London dwelling personal assistant. She takes care of her father who is diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, largely all by herself. But when her absent mother returns, she has the opportunity to live a life all her own for the first time. Her mother has often referred to her as the Ghanian word "maame" meaning woman. This forced Maddie to grow up and act as a woman even at a young age. 

What works is that this book will give you every reminder of those first times moving out. It will give you all the feelings of stepping out of your comfort zone and trying to reinvent yourself. What author Jessica George does so deftly is give us real human interactions. Whether it's her father, mother, friends or coworkers, the actions feel authentic. And Maddie's responses even more so. 

At just over 300 pages, I couldn't stop reading Maame. But this is a methodical read. Deliberate. Requiring our attention. No doubt, some people will not "get it." They might declare it "boring" even. However, for those of us who crave real human interaction--for those of us who know what it's like to become withdrawn during discomfort--Maame is a stunning portrayal of those of us who lived (or are currently living) in their 20s. Easily, the most essential book of the year thus far.

Maame by Jessica George
Release Date: January 31, 2023
MSRP: $17.99


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