The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney

Okechukwu Nzelu

fiction contemporary young adult
emotional reflective medium-paced

320 pages | first published 2019

The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney is a comic novel about Nnenna, a half-Nigerian teenager living in modern-day Manchester with her mother Joanie. As Nnenna approaches womanhood she starts trying to connect with her Igbo-Nigerian culture. Her once close and tender relationship with her mother becomes strained as she asks probing questions about her father who she's never met and whom her mother who refuses to discuss.

Each chapter begins with a biblical quote which harks back to the beginning of Maurice and Joanie's relationship - meeting in a church group in a café in Cambridge - but is really Nnenna's diary headings which she is trying to hide from her mother's prying eyes. Nnenna is asking big questions of how to 'be' when she doesn't know who she is as Joanie wonders how to truly love when she has never been loved.

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emotional 100%
hopeful 71%
funny 42%
reflective 42%
sad 28%
informative 14%
inspiring 14%
lighthearted 14%
relaxing 14%


medium 66%
fast 33%

Plot- or character-driven?

A mix: 50% | Character: 50%

Strong character development?

Yes: 71% | It's complicated: 28%

Loveable characters?

Yes: 71% | It's complicated: 28%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 85% | It's complicated: 14%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

Yes: 50% | It's complicated: 33% | N/A: 16%

Average rating