Jenna Bush Hager described "Maame," her February 2023 Read With Jenna pick, as a late-in-life coming-of-age story, with the humor and unique narrative voice of "Bridget Jones's Diary."
Speaking to TODAY.com, author Jessica George revealed the book actually began in her diary. Like the main character, Maddie, George's father died from complications of Parkinson's disease. She wrote to process the loss.
“The voice is very much my own,” George tells TODAY.com. “It’s the colloquial conversational tone that I have in my head.”
After "Maame," you may be looking for a book with similar humor and heart. George recommended five follow-up books like "Maame" to read, and why.
"An American Marriage" by Tayari Jones
George says this novel fulfills everything she wants in a book. "I’m a big fan of real characters and stories that highlight the complex nature of humanity. I think 'An American Marriage' depicts both these aspects beautifully," George tells TODAY.com. "An American Marriage" begins as a love story: Celestial and Roy fall in love and get married. Months later, Roy is wrongfully charged and imprisoned. In the next five years, Celestial and Roy's lives change profoundly, and the gap may widen too much for them to find each other again when he leaves prison.
"Queenie" by Candice Carty-Williams
Like "Maame," "Queenie" is the first-person account of a young Black woman in modern-day London, dealing with the ins and outs.
"This book was published in 2019 and was the most relatable book I’d ever read at that point. Needless to say, it was a long time coming and an unforgettable reading experience," George says.
"Lessons in Chemistry" by Bonnie Garmus
George thanks "Lessons in Chemistry" for helping her break out of a book slump. The popular novel is the story of a woman ahead of her time, who goes from chemist to famous TV chef. "Also, the periodic table hardback design deserves its own mention," she says.
"The Secret Lives of Church Ladies" by Deesha Philyaw
George recommends this award-winning collection of short stories, following four generations of women connected to the same church. "I think short stories are notoriously difficult to write because you have so much to pack into such a small word count, but I think Deesha did this effortlessly.
"Rootless" by Krystle Zara Appiah
George describes this novel as a "heart-breaking yet beautiful love story about how easy and how difficult it is to fall in love with your soulmate." Efe and Sam's young love is complicated by an unplanned pregnancy, and they struggle to regain their footing.