By Jessica George
Publication Date: January 31, 2023
Maddie’s nickname, “Maame,” may mean “woman” in Twi, and Maddie might be 25 years old, but she’s still living the sheltered life of a dutiful daughter. Since she was a teenager, she’s cared for her father while her mother spends most of her time in Ghana and her elder brother does what he pleases. When her mother returns home, Maddie jumps at the chance to move out on her own and finally experience “normal” life. A life where she can have fun, friends, and stand up for herself at work.
Just when Maddie thinks she might be figuring herself out, and having some fun in the process, her world falls apart and try as hard as she might, she’s unable to come to grips with the person she thinks she ought to be versus the person she wants to be.
I typically avoid novels where the MC is in her early to mid-twenties (i.e., New Adult). This is only because I can rarely relate to them or their problems so the MC’s plight is lost on me. Or I wind up rolling my eyes a lot.
Not this time Maddie is such a relatable character regardless of your age. The issues she’s dealing with – identity, family, grief, mental health, friendship, and trust – are universal. So despite the fact that I had almost nothing in common with her on an outward level (ethnicity, family issues, etc.), I really empathized with her. This is in no small part due to the skill of the author. Also possibly because my own twenty-fifth birthday (more years ago than I care to think about) was the worst, where I felt like nothing was easy and would never get any better. (I’m happy to report that things did, indeed, get better.)
This isn’t an overly heavy or depressing book, though. Poignant and sometimes heartbreaking, yes, and the themes that it tackles are serious and deep, but there are moments of levity. I loved Maddie’s quirk of Googling everything. I mean everything. Her two best friends provided a breath of fresh air whenever they appeared. And I think everyone needs a Sam in their life.
It’s been a while since I’ve really rooted for a character, groaned when she did something boneheaded (even if it was understandable), or got mad at another character on her behalf. I’m really looking forward to reading more by this author.
Anyone who’s ever struggled with where they fit in (and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t) should read this.
4.25/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐+
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing the ARC ebook. I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.