Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Housegirl” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.04  ·  Rating details ·  559 ratings  ·  113 reviews
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
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 12th 2018 by Fourth Estate (first published June 27th 2018)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  559 ratings  ·  113 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
3.5 stars to House Girl! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐.5

Housegirl is set in both Ghana and London and is the story of two teen girls facing the life-expanding challenges often associated with “coming of age.”

Belinda is a rule follower, and as a “housegirl,” it is a blessing because she has to keep up with the details of running a household, according to her employers’ wishes. One of the first rules: Belinda has to forget her village and her early life.

Mary is 11-years-old, and as a soon-to-be housegirl, she is still
'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 be
Nicole O
I feel bad criticizing the work of an author, especially a debut novel, as it feels as though I'm criticizing someone's newborn child.

However, I have to remind myself of the fact that I devoted a few hours of my life that I can never get back reading said book, and it in that respect it all evens out anyhow.

The pidgin/broken English in this book is HORRIBLE. Almost unbearable, really. The dialogue sounds as though it was imagined by a WASP who has never set foot outside of their home country, a
Paul Fulcher
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley, 2018
Now longlisted for the 2019 Desmond Elliot Prize for debut fiction

"The two of them – Amma, Mary – in their own, very different ways , in their different times and places, had made Belinda think and laugh so hard."

Michael Donkor's excellent debut novel Hold is set in Ghana and South-East London. It opens in December 2002 with 17 year-old Belinda grieving at a traditional funeral in Ghana, but then travels back 9 months to find Belinda working, for the previous 6 months, as a house-girl in Daban,
Jul 07, 2018 added it
Shelves: dnf, arc
DNF. Life is too short to indulge in books that make you mad. I'm sure this novel probably gets better when the characters are in London, but I can't keep on reading to get to that point. The dialogue is a mockery/insult to Ghanaians. I'm sure the (clueless) white editors had a jolly ol' time fixing the dialogue to make the housegirl characters speak 'broken english', but its a terrible, terrible attempt. I really like Donkor, but this book ultimately gave me a headache and I can't come and die ...more
The prologue opens at the funeral of an unidentified person, lodging a question in the back of the reader’s mind as the events of earlier that year (2002) unfold in the rest of the book.

Belinda and Mary are housegirls in the home of a wealthy Ghanaians couple who, following custom, the girls refer to as ‘Aunty’ and ‘Uncle’. (Personally, I would have liked more background about the role and employment/legal status of housegirls in Ghanaian society to help me understand better the relationship.) B
May 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Belinda is the lead protagonist of this novel that never really hits a higher gear. It’s like being in a car riding on a flat land and never shifting out of first gear. There are no scary turns, no dangerous hills, no steep climbs, just miles of flat terrain. The novel just moves along telling Belinda’s story as a house girl in Ghana who gets sent to London, not as a house girl but to act as a friend to a girl called Amma, who is going through some tough times.

The story has no sizzle and withou
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it
With shifts in narrative between England and Ghana, an unusual depiction of immigrant experience is found in this novel, from the perspective of two adolescent girls. Though very different in their upbringing and characters, Amma and Belinda develop kinship in their search for a place in the world, when sexual and cultural identities are in confusion. It's a fascinating glimpse into diverse British communities such as this West African one in Brixton.
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gender, race
Belinda, seventeen, and Mary, eleven, are servant-girls for a well-to-do retired couple in Kumasi, Ghana. Amma, also seventeen, is a British-Ghanaian girl living in London: she used to be such a good daughter, but lately something's gotten into her, she's been moody, at best uncommunicative and at worst full of "rude cheekiness", to use her mother's words. Amma's parents are friends with Belinda and Mary's employers, and, impressed with what they hear and see of Belinda's diligence and politenes ...more
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Hold is a moving, funny, and sad novel about friendship, shame, forgiveness, and growing up, that is set between Ghana and London. The protagonist is Belinda, a housegirl who moved from her village to Kumasi when the chance came. She works alongside Mary, a spirited eleven-year-old who became the sister Belinda never had, until Belinda is summoned to London to try and bring Amma out of her shell. Amma is a straight-A student who lives in south London with her Ghanian parents, but recently she ha ...more
Renita D'Silva
A beautiful and poignant tale
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this book. It’s not earth-shattering and there really aren’t any tense highs (or lows), but to be honest, I’m starting to enjoy this kind of book a lot more than the other kind.

I enjoyed the technically similar, but conflicting characters of Belinda and Amma; two young women of a similar age, from (in some ways) the same place with completely different experiences, thoughts and ways of moving through life. I found the development of their friendship and the way they interacted
May 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, netgalley
This looked like being the perfect read for me - a coming-of-age novel set partly in Ghana, with the additional appeal of immigration issues. Unfortunately it didn't work for me and I struggled to finish.

The narrative divides quite abruptly between Belinda's first job, when she works as a maid for a wealthy family in Kumasi, Ghana, and her move to London to become the companion of Amma, a spoiled teenager, who has become increasingly belligerent with her parents. They are hoping that a polite gi
Four stars for the book, 5 for the narration, which is fabulous. Adjoa Andoh narrates in lovely Ghanaian-accented English, making even the twi phrases seem understandable. Immersive narration--I have to think it's the best way to appreciate this book (but I am prejudiced in favor of audio.) Dialect is always easier to understand heard rather than read, and Andoh's lyrical reading makes the most of characters, story, and tone. This is a coming-of-age story for three girls: Belinda, the housegirl, ...more
Mar 09, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars. This started out well but I never fully engaged with the characters.
Savvy Little Book Club  Yvonne M.
I received an ARC copy from the publisher via NetGalley. I didn’t get pass the first chapter. Usually there’s something that captures your attention in the prologue or first chapter but the prologue was confusing and didn’t give the reader any feelings towards Belinda or a good enough hint at what’s to come. The first chapter wasn’t much better. It just threw you into it and seems like you should know what’s going on. It introduces Belinda and Mary but doesn’t describe them or the personality. I ...more
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

Hold is a difficult book for me to review because there are some aspects of it that I absolutely loved, but other aspects that didn't work for me at all. It is a novel in three sections - two set in Ghana with a London section in between. I loved Michael Donkor's depictions of both locations. Each is vivid and exciting and we get to see, hear and even smell Daban and Brixton. The linking character, Belinda, is new to each place so I liked the
Dec 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Hold, later renamed as Housegirl, is a ‘coming of age’ novel of a girl, Bellinda who struggles between two world- Ghana and London. She is the ideal housemaid, knows her duties and performs them with perfection. Bellinda finds a sister in Mary- an 11-year-old who still can’t abide by rules.
But soon Bellinda is sent to London as a companion and friend to Amma. Bellinda misses Mary but her only hope at a decent life is to befriend Anna. As these two women start to unfold, a friendship develops bet
May 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Belinda is the lead protagonist of this novel that never really hits a higher gear. It’s like being in a car riding on a flat land and never shifting out of first gear. There are no scary turns, no dangerous hills, no steep climbs, just miles of flat terrain. The novel just moves along telling Belinda’s story as a house girl in Ghana who gets sent to London, not as a house girl but to act as a friend to a girl called Amma, who is going through some tough times.

The story has no sizzle and withou
Mairead Hearne (




What should we cling to, and when is it time to let go?’

Hold is the debut novel from Michael Donkor and has just been published by Fourth Estate. Moving between Ghana and London, Hold is described as ‘an intimate, moving, powerful coming-of-age novel’, telling the story of Belinda, a young Ghanaian who finds herself living in London, so utterly different from her life as a housegirl in Ghana.

Hold has a really striking cover which would light up any bookcase or
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Belinda is a teenage Ghanaian village girl, sold by her mother into bonded labour as a servant girl in a big house. The owners of that house, Aunty and Uncle, then sell Belinda on to a Ghanaian family living in London to be a good influence on their wayward daughter Amma.

The issues presented in the novel are real, but the characters are not particularly strong. Belinda in particular is an Everyman character, bland and compliant; not terribly happy but not terribly persuasive that she had any re
Moray Teale
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is quite a debut! Michael Donkor covers a lot of ground in this immersive tale of Belinda the Ghanaian housegirl who moves to London to be a calming influence on Amma the daughter of an expatriate family whose lack of connection to their culture and thoroughly western mindset is driving her parents to distraction. Donkor addresses the problems adapting to a culture as a stranger, whether it is an entirely new world as London is to Belinda or something born to but never fundanentally experie ...more
Muthoni Muiruri
Jan 02, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Did Not Finish!!

I really tried with this book but the writing style was so off I had to put it down. Trying to follow what the author was trying to communicate was such a chore I couldn't do it. I initially read till page 63, then I skipped to 120 to see if I would get the hang of it. I read till page 140 and skipped again to 160 and I had to put it down.

I have always enjoyed African languages thrown into the story but the way this was done in the book was completely off. Random words here and t
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Funny, moving and sad, Michael's novel is a beautiful coming of age story. My only disappointment was the lack of closure with so many of the characters.
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Maybe. But, like, really, aren’t we all made of flesh and skin underneath it all? Aren’t we made of much, much softer things that break too easily?”

The go-to belief of everyone, man, woman and child, irregardless of race, is that the black woman is strong. The black woman is invulnerable. The black woman is unbreakable. It is a disservice to women who hurt and bleed like everyone else but have been taught by society to swallow their hurts and pain and sometimes take joy in it, because the pain
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s been quite a while since my last book review, so let’s get back into the swing of things with a not-necessarily-Christmassy book… which is nevertheless a must-read for your Christmas break!

Hold, or Housegirl, is a book about women. Namely, Belinda, a housemaid who is whisked away from her home in Ghana, to South London, to play friend and mentor to Amma, a troubled girl who lives with her Ghanaian parents at home. But Belinda has ties of her own- to Mary, her fellow housemaid she leaves beh
Maggie Boyd
House Girl has been nominated for the Edinburgh First Book Award and is listed as one of The Observer‘s “New Faces of Fiction”; one of The Millions‘ “Most Anticipated Books of the Year” ; one of The Guardian‘s “Best Summer Books” and one of Library Journal‘s “Books to Anticipate.” It’s safe to say it is one of the most anticipated publications of the year. I was anxious to see if the story lived up to all the hype and, for the most part, it did.

When her father stops paying her school fees, Belin
Milky Mixer
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well I loved this book. Yes, it moves at a slower pace, but I enjoyed slowing down to savor the descriptive writing and the peppered dialogue. Whether the characters were in a London coffee shop or an African bus stop, I always felt present with them, their feelings, the temperature of their surroundings, their hopes and dreams. And how can you not love Belinda? And how can you not love Mary? And the author uses the words "nonplussed" and "razzmatazz" - two of my favorite words! Readers who disl ...more
Carolyne Gathuru
This book has annoyed me so much.....

One because it is so beautifully written, very vivid, very descriptive, very 'feeling'. The author expresses the characters' feelings in such a comprehensive way that allows us to feel right along with them the different emotions running through their beings.

However........... The book is in current lingo 'extraaaaaaaa' in terms of over dwelling on one issue forever and ever and dragging on to no end? Pages 218 to the end Pg 308 for example are only on one to
Kelly 💜☕️

I gave this audiobook about 90 minutes and realized that I wasn’t into this story at all. Maybe the Ghana accents weren’t good, but I know it needed more action.

Too many books & not enough time... moving on.

Thanks to San Diego County Library for the digital audio version via Libby app.

[Audio: 8 hours, 16 minutes]
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Missing cover - 9780008280383 2 12 May 14, 2019 08:12PM  
Go On Girl! Book...: About Michael Donkor 3 4 Jan 08, 2019 05:39PM  
Go On Girl! Book...: * About The Book 3 4 Jan 08, 2019 05:28PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Things Bright and Beautiful
  • House of Stone
  • The Gin Shack on the Beach
  • So Happy It Hurts
  • Forest Gate
  • Do No Harm
  • That Was When People Started To Worry
  • Slay In Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible
  • Nineveh
  • Shelter
  • The Pearler's Wife
  • Never Ran, Never Will: Boyhood and Football in a Changing American Inner City
  • The Woman in the Movie Star Dress
  • The Falling Sky
  • Sugarland
  • The Hundred Wells of Salaga
  • The Realms of Gold
  • Man Up: Surviving Modern Masculinity
See similar books…
Michael Donkor was born in London, to Ghanaian parents. He studied English at Wadham College at the University of Oxford, undertook a masters in creative writering at Royal Holloway, and now teaches English literature to secondary school students. In 2014, his writing won him a place on the Writers' Centre Norwich Inspires Scheme, where he received a year's mentoring from Daniel Hahn. Housegirl is ...more
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »