Monday, March 29, 2010

Review #52: Powder Necklace by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

Title: Powder Necklace
Author: Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Format: ARC from Publisher
Genre: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-1-4391-2610-3
Price/Pages: $15.00/app. 279

Release Date: April 6, 2010

My Review and Description:

I picked this one up yesterday afternoon during my son's nap time and finished it later that night. I was impressed with myself for eating it up so quickly but more so impressed with the talent of this debut novelist.

The story is tragic, real and compulsively readable. Lila is a 14 year old girl born to a mother and father from Ghana but raised in London. She never gets to know her father except over brief phone calls during holidays and her birthday. Her mother is fiercely protective and angry at every normal teenage action she seems to make. (talking to boys, wearing tight clothes, etc). Her mother's attitude towards her goes beyond normal mother/daughter parenting. Though the story behind her father isn't told right away, the hatred that Lila's mother has for him is quite obvious in the way she tries to shelter Lila.

Then one day her mother walks in on Lila and a boy friend watching TV and it sends her into a rage. Soon enough, Lila finds herself being sent to stay with her aunt in Ghana to give her mom "a break".

Ghana is a far cry from her life in London. It is rough and dirty and not at all welcoming. Her Auntie is brisk and to the point; "Don't ask too many questions. Try to fit in." Though her skin color matches the other girls at the Dadaba Girls Secondary School, the term "Broni" is often shouted at her, meaning "White Girl or not a true Ghanaian".

She is faced with a bleak, hot, cruel environment. She is taught to keep her head down and make it through. A water shortage, peer pressure and bullies make her life in Ghana a living hell. After six months and a tough road to making a few friends, her mother pulls her back to her life in London.

With a new man in her mother's life and a possible future step sister, Lila is brought back to a world she is unsure is her true home. But this time she jumps in full force; to hell with her mom's rules about boys. She deserves some fun and soon finds it in her first boyfriend, a new job, sex and drugs.

But not for long. Only a short time after getting settled back in, her father sends for her to take a vacation with his new family to Disney World.

At this point in the book you are really feeling for Lila. Seriously, what the hell? You feel the disfunction of the mother, the eagerness and lure of the father and the impatience of Lila. Who's interest is this all for?

Lila is a fresh, witty, all too aware and real teenager. Though her bad behavior makes you angry at times, you completely understand her rebellion and anger towards her parents. You also get a raw description of life in Ghana and the displacement Lila feels in a culture and world she is supposed to embrace.

Author Info: (from back of ARC)
Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond has written for AOL, Parenting magazine, The Village Voice, Metro, and Trace Magazine. Her short story "Bush Girl" was published in the May 2008 issue of African Writing, and her poem "The Whinings of a Seven Sister Cum Laude Graduate Working Board as an Assistant," was published in 2006's Growing Up Girl Anthology. A cum laude graduate of Vassar College, she attended secondary school in Ghana.

Rating: 5 stars/6 stars
I would recommend this for Young and Adult readers. It has a universal voice that teenagers could easily identify with and a unique and bold writing style that a seasoned reader can appreciate.

Thank you to Wendy at Simon and Schuster for feeding my love of new books and sending me a copy to read.

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

red headed book child


Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Powder Necklace means (this is loosely pulled from the book) that you have a powdered neck, meaning that you have bathed. With the issues with water shortages, having a powdered neck meant you had the means to have water sent to you. Powder was an indicator of class.
Very interesting!

WonderBunny said...

Very good review. This sounds very interesting. Might need to keep my eyes open for it.

Jenny said...

This sounds really good!!

Stacy at The Novel Life said...

sounds like a really interesting read! i'm adding it to my list!

btw, you've got an award at my blog

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

This one sounds great!! And pretty intense too. Thanks for the review!

Tales of Whimsy said...

Intense. I love books I can't put down.

Paula said...

a award for you on my blog

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Reading is a novel way to pass time.It allows us to stimulate our creative thinking skills. This new book has my interest thanks to you!

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Thanks everyone for your comments on Powder Necklace. I would recommend this if you read and enjoyed Little Bee by Chris Cleave.
Thanks all for stopping by and commenting!