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  • Location: Ghana, Kumasi, London

Hold

Why a Booktrail?

2000s: What should we hold on to, and when is the best time to let go?

  • ISBN: 978-0008280345
  • Genre: Fiction

What you need to know before your trail

Belinda knows how to follow the rules. She has learnt the right way to do all the housework since she had to leave her home and come to Kumasi to be a housegirl. She gains a friend in shy housemaid Mary who might only be 11 but becomes the sister she never had..

Amma has had enough of the rules. A straight-A pupil at her exclusive South-London school, she has always been the pride of her Ghanaian parents. Until now. Watching their once-confident teenager grow sullen and wayward, they decide that sensible Belinda might be just the shining example Amma needs.

So Belinda is summoned from Ghana to London, to befriend a troubled girl who doesn’t want her there. She encounters a city as bewildering as it is exciting, and soon, Belinda’s phonecalls back home to Mary become a lifeline.

But life is not going to stay like this for long.

 

Travel Guide

London

Seen through the eyes of an Ghanian girl, there are many things you would not see in the same way if you lived here, or even lived in the UK.

Unique insights include:

Outside, fat and nasty houses squatted close to the ground, their windows decorated with knickerish nets. On these streets, children thinner than Mary wobbled around on bikes with huge wheels. In some places, dog mess crisped. Grey bobbled buildings, like the one they’d left minutes before, shot up hundreds of feet”

Then there is one place that ressembles her home town:

Here was a little corner of Kejetia – Kejetia transformed. Eletcric Avenue. Though jowlier versions of the heroes in Aunty’s Bolywoods were everywhere here..
It was not the pale sun, making her warm, but the sight of salons filled with rows of black women…

..workers were too busy hauling boxes of bananas and spinach stamped with flags. Balancing loads on heads, the men gathered around stalls selling string vests, leggings towers of aluminum cooking pots large enough for half of Adurabaa.

London is busy and noisy

Belinda walked just behind Nana as they made their way along noisy Brixton High Road… The sky was bored, the traffic was angry. Everything around them beeped or screamed… Three striped white vans with swirling blue lights moaned. Buses bent round corners looking like sick caterpillars. Both Nana and Belinda were careful to avoid stubby black bins that choked on packets and bottles, and that made Nana hiss ‘Lambeth Council’ like those words were bad kenkey on her tongue.

Kenkey and other words are explained in a list at the start of the book. As well as the views of London, there are many moments of how Westerners think they see African customs and social norms.

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

A very interesting yet busy novel. One with an interesting premise, as I love experiencing my own country through foreign eyes, and particularly through the yes of young children. How would a young girl from rural Ghana deal with coming to London. Even people from the North of England sometimes find it overwhelming (or is that just me) so my interest was peaked early on. Add this to a plot of a coming of age story and there is a lot to delve into.

A great book for a book club – issues of race, identity and more fight with each other on the pages. Realistically sounding language and conversations add further authenticity to the plot. It did jar at times though and spoilt the rhythm of my reading – there is a helpful guide however so I would advise you read this first. Having said that, the dialogue in London also suffered for me.

I also found the writing itself unravelled some of the goodness I’ve mentioned though as certain bits of the book, sections of one event for example, seemed to drag and take away my interest for a while. I found I learned more about Belinda and I was left wanting to know more about Amma.

Having said that, this really is a novel to sink your teeth into, take time with and you will reap the rewards. Fascinating insight into a new culture and perhaps your own through fresh eyes. The girl’s friendship goes through some heartbreaking and heartwarming changes and I loved walking beside them finding out more about two remarkable girls with their unique and challenging mix of cultures, problems, growing up issues and more.

An insightful read about two very distinct cultures – Ghanian and British, wrapped in a story of so much more with characters who complement each other so well.

Booktrail Boarding Pass: Hold

Destination : Ghana, Kumasi, London  Author/Guide: Michael Donkor  Departure Time: 2002

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