The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney by Okechukwu Nzelu book review

Posted by Simba Sloane

Review by The Book Alert

The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney follows the life of a mixed race girl, raised solely by her white mother. Nnenna has no contact with her Nigerian father. Every time she mentions him, her mother shuts her down or bursts into tears. In doing so, Nnenna struggles with who she is. She feels like half of her is unknown. She is anxious; she has fears about how the world sees her and where exactly she is supposed to fit in.

I have been blessed enough that despite never living there, a strong sense of my Nigerian heritage was instilled in me from a young age. I was taught to be proud of where I come from and I’m thankful that my parents taught me that. Therefore, I struggled to like Joanie, Nnenna’s mother, as I thought it was selfish of her to deny her daughter her culture and heritage. I’m not yet a mum. I do not underestimate how difficult it can be to raise a child. But I do think it’s the responsibility of parents to do so, irrespective of if they are still with the other parent of the child.

I found it refreshing to read this story from the perspective of a biracial MC, who was navigating her feelings of not being “black enough” but the story would have benefitted from exploring what it’s like for a white mother to raise a mixed race child in Britain. What were her struggles? What were her fears? The characters were fleshed out but their stories barely touched the surface.

The story started off strong but faded towards the end as it focused too much on side characters. I think this book would benefit from a sequel. Overall, it was a promising debut full of witty moments created by messy characters. I look forward to reading more of the author’s work in the future. 3.5⭐️

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