‘Hold’ (aka ‘Housegirl’) by Michael Donkor – eARC Book Review

Blurb from Goodreads

Moving between Ghana and London, Hold is an intimate, moving, powerful coming-of-age novel. It’s a story of friendship and family, shame and forgiveness; of learning what we should cling to, and when we need to let go.

Belinda knows how to follow the rules. As a housegirl, she has learnt the right way to polish water glasses, to wash and fold a hundred handkerchiefs, and to keep a tight lid on memories of the village she left behind when she came to Kumasi.

Mary is still learning the rules. Eleven-years old and irrepressible, the young housegirl-in-training is the little sister Belinda 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, and must leave Mary to befriend a troubled girl who shows no desire for her friendship. She encounters a city as bewildering as it is thrilling, and tries to impose order on her unsettling new world.

As the Brixton summer turns to Autumn, Belinda and Amma are surprised to discover the beginnings of an unexpected kinship. But when the cracks in their defences open up, the secrets they have both been holding tightly threaten to seep out.

My Review

Read and reviewed June 2018, Published July 2018

‘Hold’ is a coming of age story about a girl split between two worlds; her life in Ghana and her life in London. The story follows responsible Belinda as she is sent from her position of responsible house-girl in Ghana where she lives with young Mary to become a chaperone style friend to wild child Amma in London and it shows the lasting impact these two have on Belinda’s life.

Personally I found the book very hard to attain a foothold into. It took until at least one third of the way through before I felt that I was following the story as I should.

For me, the beginning felt very confusing and I do not know if this was a purposeful style if the author as perhaps he wished to illustrate the confusing time that this year of 2002 was in Belinda’s life.

Sadly this book and I never clicked and it just was not to my taste.

There is however, great merit to the aims of the author and I really did love his characterisation of Amma. She was my favourite character and her struggles with her sexuality were incredibly touching to read about and I would give the author a lot of credit for his beautiful writing of her storyline.

But overall this book just wasn’t for me.

An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, William Collins / Harper Collins UK: 4th Estate, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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7 thoughts on “‘Hold’ (aka ‘Housegirl’) by Michael Donkor – eARC Book Review

  1. On no! 1/3rd is a LONG time to get in the rhythm…a SURE sign that its going to be a sucky read! 😕😕😕😕

    I am SOO SORRY this one turned out to be a disappointment, Emer! And even though you say the writing was beautiful, it doesnt solve everything, yeah? There HAS TO HE SOMETHING YOI CAN RELATE TO, YOU CAN GET ATTACHED TO! 😕

    Still, the honesty and politeness in your review was touching! ❤️😘💕 LOVED IT!! 😍😍❤️❤️😘😘👻💕☔️

    Liked by 1 person

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