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

Powder Necklace

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  237 ratings  ·  48 reviews
To protect her daughter from the fast life and bad influences of London, her mother sent her to school in rural Ghana. The move was for the girl’s own good, in her mother’s mind, but for the daughter, the reality of being the new girl, the foreigner-among-your-own-people, was even worse than the idea.

During her time at school, she would learn that Ghana was much more comp
ebook, 304 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Washington Square Press (first published February 6th 2010)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

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

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Powder Necklace, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Powder Necklace

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  237 ratings  ·  48 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Powder Necklace
Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
Apr 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I wrote this so I'm biased! But I'll tell you why I love this book:

*It tells the story of a heroine I'm so proud of -- a sharp, honest young girl making the turbulent journey of adolescence across three continents

*It offers a new perspective on important issues that need fresh examination including:
o the superiority complex Westerners have regarding the so-called
"Third World"
o the effect of single parenthood on girl children in particular
o what it means to grow up American/British/etc when
Mar 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this one up yesterday afternoon during my son's nap time and finished it later that night. I was impressed with myself for eating it up so quickly but more so impressed with the talent of this debut novelist.

The story is tragic, real and compulsively readable. Lila is a 14 year old girl born to a mother and father from Ghana but raised in London. She never gets to know her father except over brief phone calls during holidays and her birthday. Her mother is fiercely protective and angry
Nov 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book started out beautifully. Teenage Lila is a native Londoner, being raised by her divorced Ghanaian immigrant mother. But when Lila invites a boy over to play video games after school, her mother packs her off to Ghana for high school, saying she "needs a break" from Lila's troublesome ways. Lila suffers not only culture shock but identity confusion as she adjusts to Ghanaian culture and school for six months before her mother whisks her back to London and then packs her off again, this ...more
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
As a Ghanaian, I simply can't rate a book that portrays Ghana in such an unsympathetic and, in my view, unfair light. The author clearly did not enjoy her teenage experience of Ghana. However, there are ways to write about one's personal negative experiences that still acknowledge what is good. I feel this novel does not do that, at least not in the section that I have personal experience of. Unfortunately, this contemptuous portrayal of Ghana is the only view that some readers will ever get of ...more
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It was an immensely entertaining, thought provoking story.
Tracy Darity
Oct 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teenaged girls
"A powdered neck meant you had bathed....that your mother or father had sent a barrel or jerrican of water so you had water to bathe with and drink. The girls that didn't have water started powdering their neck anyway." (page 244)

The "Powder Necklace" by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond was one of those books that leaves the reader with things to ponder. The story is based on the life of Lila Adjei, a young Ghanaian girl raised in London, by her divorced mother. At the age of 13 or 14, Lila's mother becom
Mocha Girl
Apr 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Powder Necklace is a debut novel from Ekua Brew-Hammond with a Bildungsroman-ish vibe featuring Lila, a quiet and shy teen living with her divorced, immigrant mother in modern London. Although she is a good student, she is somewhat of an outsider, a bit withdrawn and largely friendless. Her life is turned upside down when her mother misinterprets an innocent encounter as a carnal act of disobedience. Her mother seemingly overreacts by shipping Lila unaccompanied to Ghana the next day.

Lila has a
Carla Ford
May 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It seems as though we can all learn a lesson from this young girl. Bounced from place to place by her basket case of a mother, Lila's resilience is amazing. Sent from the U.S. because, as it turns out, her mother needs some "me time", Lila finds herself in Ghana, a place that nothing her life in the U.S. could have possibly prepared her for. She cried until she had no tears left, then when she had to leave her aunt's house for school, she cried some more. Eventually, she settled into life at sch ...more
Jun 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: herstory, africa
Do you know what I found remarkable about this book? Brew-Hammond's ability to have such a realistic teenage protagonist. This is first person narrative, and she remains absolutely believable and authentic as a teenager throughout the entire book. Let's be honest. As an adult, teenagers are about the most exasperating beings on the planet. Why won't they just heed? Why do they persist in folly? And roll their eyes and give such attitude? But, as a teenager, your every indignation is absolutely r ...more
Dec 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What a wonder read. It was an easy read and so well written; w/some humor too. She covered the three geographical locations nicely. At least it seems as if she did. I wouldn't be surprised if this became a movie too. Good character development especially in Auntie Flora.
Lily Jade
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: happychaseamartey
So this girl's mother s sending Lila all over the place. In all of the places Lila had been, she felt a little nervous at first, but after, she feels like it's...home. I'm not telling you the end, but this book is really good. I loved it. Parts made me cry, parts made me laugh. The only thing I'm telling you about the end is that she says, "For a second I thought about all the places I'd called home in the past year. The flat in Peckham. Auntie Irene's bungalow in Kumasi. Addo House at Dadaba. T ...more
Patrick Anthony
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed interviewing Nana for this book. We have also done a couple radio shows and she is the Now now, meaning everything she does, including Powder Necklace, in embued with fashion, integrity, feminism and a live for the motherland. Cannot wait to see future and forthcoming work.
Shelley Shockley
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
I just love when I have no preconceived notions about a book and delve into and really find myself enjoying it! That was just the case with Brew-Hammond's Powder Necklace.
If I were to put it into a category I would call it a "coming of age" story, but it is also a story of the different dynamics that make up a family in our world.
Told from the narrator, Lila's, point of view this international story follows the path a young Ghanaian girl takes as she travels to the homeland of her parents - some
Michelle Robinson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 16, 2012 rated it liked it
On the whole I enjoyed reading this book but as the child of a West African immigrant who spent the first part of her childhood 'back home' before returning to the UK, I felt the novel's protagonist or perhaps the author missed out on the beauty of Africa. While I appreciate that being uprooted from a life of creature comforts in London and being placed in hardship in a strange country, I still think the character failed to learn the lesson life in Africa could have taught her. The preoccupation ...more
Jan 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Another classification of a brilliant meet and greet. I was privileged to cross paths with Mrs. Hammond at a book fair event. One word description AMAZING !

Reading and browsing every page, not only was I provided with a sharp glance of what life may truly be like in Ghana, but talking about putting a grip on the actual definition of what HOME really is. Finding herself caught up in the middle of what some have called parental irreconcilable differences, young Lila gets a pure dose of root-ality.
Jul 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing

Lila is coming of age in London. She has a boyfriend and several good girl friends. Her mother fears she is running in the wrong crowd. She sends her off to rural Ghana.
School at first is hard as is the culture. Water is a symbol of wealth. Water is hard to find and parents send water to their kids to drink, bathe and wash their clothes. The powder necklace of the title is when the girls powder their neck which showed that they had bathed. Then she goes back to London where she meets her mother'
Sad tale -- mom in London tries for better life for her daughter (or maybe just wants time to spend w/new boyfriend without being bothered by parenting a daughter) so sends her back to Ghana, her homeland but where she is hardly at home. A poignant comment of not fitting in, in your own supposed 'land', and the brutality of adolescent relational aggression. Then is brought back to London and sent to live with her father in the US, where a trip of Disneyland is a crazy parody of all that is worst ...more
Apr 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
A breathtakingly intriguing story, author Nana Ekua Brew Hammond creates an astounding coming of age novel centering around the life of Lila Adjei. Lila defines her identity as well as her purpose in life, while being shipped to three different countries by her mother. During her travels, Lila embarks on a journey through displacement and abandonment, to sacrifice, endurance, and accomplishment. Hammond does a remarkable job of capturing the rich Ghanaian culture through references to the langua ...more
Dec 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women-s-fiction
NeoAgent Disclaimer: Yes, I'm biased since I'm the agent on this, but if you can handle that, read on.

POWDER NECKLACE is a fresh take on a Diaspora narrative. It is written with humor and heart, and is as much an immigrant story as it is a portrait of Ghanaian culture. Nana attracted my support because she handled the material in a contemporary way. She created a work that ALL mothers and daughters can enjoy, and gives her readers a chance to ponder the choices we make when forming our own iden
May 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african
This wonderful debut novel is a coming of age story with international flair. A very enjoyable read, with vivid descriptions of Ghana, and the hardships endured by the protagonist who is suddenly uprooted from her home, not once, but twice. I liked the characters, even the unlikeable ones. But I do wish the last part of the book had delved a little bit deeper. The ending (once she was in the US) felt rushed to me, and not as "real" as the Ghana/London part. Everything happened too quickly and we ...more
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
Our book group won these from It was a very interesting story of a young teen being shuttled betweeen her known life in London with her mother to the unknown life in Ghana with a aunt. Then back to London where her mother now has a boyfriend with a teenage daughter. Then shuttled off to her father and his wife and twins who she has never met in the US. It is very discriptive and funny in a sad way. It's heartbreaking how little the adults care about this teen's feeling, even th ...more
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the book until I got to the last page. The ending seemed a bit rushed or just not enough. In any case, I was intrigued to read this because I recall the chit chats my best friend and I would have while I was in high school. I would ask her about her life in Ghana and school, etc. This book brought me back to the times of envisioning life there and how different it is from what I have experienced here in the states. While I didn't care for the ending much, I have to say it was the author' ...more
May 12, 2010 rated it liked it
It is an enjoyable book. My favorite parts were when Lila the main character was living in London and Ghana, the descriptions and her life were vivid and I felt like I was really looking into Lila and her world. When she moves to America, the story began to lose some of the realism to me. I felt like the end was a little too tidy. At some points I found Lila's interactions with her parents ringing false.
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
A great coming-of-age story, loosely based on the experience of the author's. As a young adolescent, Lila's mother abruptly sends her Ghana to attend boarding school, which subsequently becomes a crash course in a culture that she had never known. This was the land of her parents, foreign territory and she was treated as such by the other girls at school who ridiculed her for being a foreigner, unfamiliar with the language and customs. Great read!
Susan Frazier-Kouassi
Apr 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
This 1st novel by the author is a very thinly disguised autobiography. There are some great sections, which I wish she would have explored more in depth, but, it gives an interesting insight (although somewhat cast in a negative light) of life as a secondary student in a single-sex Ghana boarding school.
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lila is sent from a "luxury" apartment in London to finish high school in Ghana. Her mother tells her it will teach her a lesson for her behavior and that the schools are superior.
While in Ghana she is hazed by her peers and must fetch her own water. The lessons she learns are life lessons about priorities and relationships in this excellent debut novel.
Robbin Melton
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An odd title, but after you read the book, you'll see it makes perfect sense. This is a fascinating story about a British African girl whose mother sends her to live temporarily in Ghana and then sends her to New York to reside with a father she doesn't know. Very sweet story and quick read. I look forward to reading more from this author.
Joshunda Sanders
Mar 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nana is a homegirl from my Vassar days, so I expected to find some familiar themes in the book, but "Powder Necklace" was actually such a revelation on some many levels while also being a fun, quick and delightful read. A wonderfully diverse and entertaining book.
Apr 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I loved Powder Necklace. It tells and honest and powerful story. A good reminder that no matter where you grow up, the anxiety of being a teen and the painful process of discovering who you really are is universal.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Writers & Lovers
  • Sweetbitter
  • The Girls from Corona del Mar
  • The Pisces
  • Fates and Furies
  • The Probability of Miracles
  • The Sweetest Fruits
  • Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A True (as Told to Me) Story
  • White Girls
  • The Pleasing Hour
  • Euphoria
  • The Burning Girl
  • Father of the Rain
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had
  • Brown Girl Dreaming
  • Where You'll Find Me
  • Bob
  • Hot Cocoa Hearts (Wish, #3)
See similar books…
Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond's first book Powder Necklace (Washington Square Press 2010) is a YA tome loosely inspired by her experience attending a girls’ boarding school in the Central Region of Ghana, West Africa. Publishers Weekly called the book “a winning debut” while Library Journal recommended it "for readers who enjoyed Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purpl ...more

Related Articles

Magic and myth, getting real and standing up for what’s right, love and longing, growing up and falling in love. Get ready for some of the best...
162 likes · 80 comments