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Powder Necklace

Powder Necklace

A Novel

  • reading group guide
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 complicated than her fellow ex-pats had ever told her, including how much a London-raised child takes something like water for granted. In Ghana, water “became a symbol of who had and who didn’t, who believed in God and who didn’t. If you didn’t have water to bathe, you were poor because no one had sent you some.”

After six years in Ghana, her mother summons her home to London to meet the new man in her mother’s life—and his daughter. The reunion is bittersweet and short-lived as her parents decide it’s time that she get to know her father. So once again, she’s sent off, this time to live with her father, his new wife, and their young children in New York—but not before a family trip to Disney World.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439126103 | 
  • April 2010
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Powder Necklace Author Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond Revealed

Author Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond reveals her favorite place to be and her favorite TV shows.

Read an Excerpt


Everything happens for God’s good reason is the cliché my mother has drilled in my head since I was old enough to ask “Why?”—but too young to question why she really didn’t seem to believe this was true regarding her and my father. She would go off on these paranoid rants about him and how he had left us. These tirades were always followed with a lecture on how I should let that be a lesson to me about boys, how they only wanted to spoil me (“spoil” being her euphemism for sex), and how much she had sacrificed for my benefit.

She usually got this way after her... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Powder Necklace includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Powder Necklace is the extraordinary story of Lila, a British teenager from a Ghanaian family whose mother abruptly sends her away to Ghana to attend school and learn about her native country. Over the course of a year, she embarks on a wild journey that takes her from London to Ghana to America and eventually back to Ghana. Along the way Lila discovers her own unique identity, learning what it means to be Ghanaian and forming deeper roots in her family’s homeland and deeper friendships with her fellow Ghanaians than she ever dreamed possible. After half a year of living at Dadaba, a Ghanaian boarding school, Lila returns to London as suddenly as she left, and she must adjust to life in England after livi see more

About the Author

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
Photograph ©

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond has written for AOL, Parenting Magazine, the Village Voice, Metro and Trace Magazine. Her short story “Bush Girl” was published in the May 2008 issues of African Writing and her poem, “The Whinings of a Seven Sister Cum Laude Graduate Working Board as an Assistant,” was published in 2006’s Growing up Girl Anthology. A cum laude graduate of Vassar College, she attended secondary school in Ghana . Powder Necklace is loosely based on the experience.


Author Revealed

Q. how did you come to write Powder Necklace?

A. As a kid, I lived in Ghana for three years where I attended boarding school and encountered a small group of kids whose parents had also sent them to Ghana from Europe and the States. I wanted to write a book about that unique hybrid experience of being from two places at the same time, reconciling a first world superiority complex with respect for your immigrant parents, crisscrossing the globe to visit family "back home" and on other dots of the map, and figuring out how to answer when people ask you where you’re from -- all while meeting the challenge of growing up.

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