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Powder Necklace: A Novel (Wsp Readers Club) Kindle Edition

26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When her single mother needs a break, London teenager Lila is sent to school in Ghana. Once at Dadaba Girls' Secondary School, Lila finds herself fending for a place among an unforgiving physical and emotional climate. Just as Lila is learning to appreciate the unusual joys of her new home, however, Lila's mother, having found a new boyfriend and a new home, yanks her back to London. Though Lila gets back to school, lands a job, and finds a boyfriend, she's once again shipped off, this time to live with her father in New York. Brew-Hammond uses sensual language to drop readers into each of Lila's strange new settings, crafting vivid portraits of dislocation and discovery. Though the evangelical undertones may turn off some readers and Lila's mom's issues (her aggression, her refusal to let Lila make any decisions for herself) are left largely unaddressed, the beauty of the prose and the resilience of the heroine make this a winning debut. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Far from the classic finding-your-roots story, this contemporary debut novel about a British teen’s return to her parents’ Ghana homeland is unsettling drama, with no clear coming home, and that is what makes the wry, honest first-person narrative so memorable and so surprising. Growing up in London with her divorced mother, Lila, 15, is caught doing drugs and chasing boys, so Mum sends her to a girls’ boarding-school in Ghana. She hates it there, especially the lack of running water, the filth, and the flies, though she does make some very dear friends (and enemies). When Mum suddenly summons her back, Lila feels a mix of anger, relief, and sorrow. But then her dad sends for her, and she visits with his family in Manhattan, after a wild trip to Disneyland. So where is home? Does she want to be the English girl or the exotic girl from Ghana? The writer clearly draws on her own American Ghanaian identity to dramatize the hardship and the rich diversity of a multicultural heritage. --Hazel Rochman

Product Details

  • File Size: 1816 KB
  • Print Length: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press (March 25, 2010)
  • Publication Date: April 6, 2010
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003DXPTRK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #927,171 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond has written for AOL, the Village Voice, Metro, JET Magazine, and Trace Magazine. Her short story "Bush Girl" was published in the May 2008 issues of African Writing and her poem, "The Whinings of a Seven Sister Cum Laude Graduate Working Bored 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. Powder Necklace is loosely based on the experience.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Book 'Em Danno on May 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Everything happens for God's good reason is the cliche my mother has drilled in my head since I was old enough to ask "Why?". This is the first sentence of the novel Powder Necklace and starts the reader off into Lila's world of inconsistency based on her parents, in particular her mother's decisions.

Lila is a London teenager living with her mom. Her parents have been divorced since she was young. Lila's father lives in New York with a new wife and their twin son and daughter. Ghana is the country of origin for Lila's parents. One day Lila's mother finds her in the living room watching television with a boy when no one is supposed to be in the house. Lila's mother sends her to Ghana. Lila's Aunt Irene is able to get her into Dadaba Girls' Secondary School. Lila then goes back from Ghana to London with her mother, then from London to New York with her father, with return trips to London and Ghana.

The title of Powder Necklace comes from Lila's time in Ghana. A powder necklace meant you had bathed - your mother or father had sent you water - but there were girls who had no water that still wore powder necklaces. My interpretation of the girls wearing powder necklaces was that regardless of where you stand in terms of class and money, you can still have pride in yourself and hold your head high no matter what the circumstance.

There are so many things that happen in this coming of age story that you'll have to read it yourself to get the full impact. The author has managed to deal with so many issues in one novel - culture, class, divorce, fate, introspection - in a way that will make you laugh, be sad, or make you reminisce if you're past the teenage years. There's a great reading guide for groups as well as a Q & A with the author at the end. I highly recommend you read this novel, it's one you will think about long after you finish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BMAR on October 17, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I truly was taken in from page one. The story of Lila, who is of Ghanian descent, but has been raised in London spoke clear of the struggles of origin and culture. By culture she is British, so it is a shock to her system when her Mom, in a fit of anger, sends Lila to Ghana to live with an Aunt for a while. Lila struggles to fit in at her Ghanian boarding school. She sticks out like a sore thumb and struggles with daily tasks that her cohort members have been performing for years as they grew up in Ghana. Lila begins to make a life for her self and then is abruptly brought back to London only to struggle to reassert herself in the life that has become a little bit foreign to her, as she also tries to reform her bond with her mother. Lila again faces a major crisis of culture and origin when she is sent to the U.S. to spend a summer with a father she only knows based on sometimes monthly phone calls. The novel is rich in is character development as well as it is descriptions of the places and peoples of three distinct countries/cultures. I definitely hope this author writes more novels!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jen Jen on January 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. I stumbled upon it on Facebook one day and knew I had to read it.
As a British born Ghanaian living in the UK, I connected so much with the characters especially Lila. I found the book hilarious and at times sad. The descriptions of Ghana are accurate and the twi even helped me learn some of my mother tongue! I was never bored!
Be careful reading this on public transport. You will have a constant smile on your face! Well done Nana Ekua!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Brody on April 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is a unique piece of modern literature. Weaving the experiences of a young girl in her quest to understand her identity in three distinct worlds, Powder Necklace takes you on a beautiful journey. Nana Brew-Hammond's voice is clever, lyrical and humorous. I was so engrossed in Lila's world, I read the whole book in two days, and wanted more. This is a must read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A DC Buyer on September 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I understood that this was a coming of age story but was pleasantly surprised at how good a read it was. It also provided an interesting perspective from the view of a young girl navigating her way around three continents and very different cultures, not to mention the universal theme of adolescent girl versus "Mum." Superbly written and engaging from the start!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rachel White on February 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow. What a read. I sped through this novel by first-time author Nana Brew-Hammond in two sittings. I couldn't put it down.

Powder Necklace is a savory coming-of-age novel about a 14-yr-old London girl who gets sent to Ghana against her will, and then later to New York to stay with her father and his family. Along the journey, the narrator and protagonist (Lila) grapples with her Ghanian vs British identity, her relationship with her family, and her spirituality.

At first, the narrator's tone bothered me; I found it immature and grating. In fact, I almost dismissed the novel as a bit of a freshman failure by a debut author. The descriptive paragraphs were filled with cheesy teenage colloquisms that sounded like they were ripped from an 80's teen movie.

But the story line was enough to keep me reading past the first few chapters, and then it hit me: the narrator is immature and grating and predictable because she's a 14-yr-old girl! That's how 14 year old girls are! And that is one of the many beautiful and genius twists of Powder Necklace: it is all depth and power of transformation but through the eyes of a girl who, at least in the beginning of the book, hadn't even started menstruating yet. The alternating moments of sage truth and sheer teenage stupidity can be infuriating, but as readers we're reminded that this is the reality of a teenage perspective. And while it feels both (appropriately) awkward and choppy to have to experience teen angst with Lila, it's also deliciously satisfying, because who Lila becomes through the course of the book's journey is someone we all wish we had the courage to be, at some point in our lives.

I loved the rich, vivid details of Lila's time in Ghana.
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