Housegirl Summary & Study Guide

Michael Donkor
This Study Guide consists of approximately 66 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Housegirl.
This section contains 567 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Housegirl Summary & Study Guide Description

Housegirl Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Housegirl by Michael Donkor.

The following version of this book was used to create the guide: Donkor, Michael. Housegirl. Picador, 2018.

Donkor’s novel is divided into 43 chapters, spanning the months of March to December of 2002. Belinda, a 17-year-old girl from Adurubaa, Ghana, alternates in narration with Amma, a troubled 17-year-old living in London.

Belinda works for Aunty and Uncle Asare, who are old friends with Amma’s parents, Nana and Doctor Otuo. Belinda begins the novel working in Aunty and Uncle’s home with a younger housegirl named Mary. Mary and Belinda have worked together for over six months, and they have become very close. Nana visits Aunty, and after meeting Belinda, decides that the girl will join her return to London, where she will be able to help her daughter, Amma.

Belinda takes Mary to the Kumasi Zoo to have one last special day together before she tells Mary that she will be leaving to work in England. Mary takes the news poorly.

Once Belinda’s travel papers are in order, she flies to London to live with the Otuos. Amma picks her up at the airport, and it is immediately clear that working together will be difficult. Amma is sullen and is not eager to have a stranger from Ghana help to sort out her life.

Over the summer and fall, Amma and Belinda nevertheless develop a close relationship. Belinda enrolls in school in London, and Amma travels with her home most days. Nana asks Belinda to keep her eye on Amma’s behavior, and Nana’s goal is for Amma to become more like Belinda: polite and proper. Amma takes Belinda to parties and begins to let her into her life.

While Belinda is in London, she often calls Mary to catch up. The young girl is managing the entire Asare house by herself, and she fiercely misses Belinda. Throughout the narrative, Belinda reflects on her time in Ghana, thinking of Mary, the Asares, and her mother.

As Belinda gets closer to Amma, she tells her that her mother was a prostitute in Adurubaa, and that she has not talked to her since she began working as a housegirl. This is Belinda’s greatest secret, and she is ashamed and worried at what may happen if her employers find out about her mother’s profession. Amma assures her that she will not say anything, and that she does not think any less of Belinda for it.

Amma is in love with a girl named Roisin, and this is her deepest secret. Her Ghanaian family is extremely intolerant of anything other than cisgender heterosexuality, and she feels like she cannot come out to her family. In November, she tells Belinda, and she reacts just as Amma feared her family would.

Amma meets up with Roisin for the first time in months, and Roisin dumps her. Heartbroken, Amma has lost the only two people who knew her secret.

Belinda is concerned about Amma, and worried about her performance in school, when one day Doctor Otuo receives the news that Mary has been hit by a truck and killed. The news is devastating to Belinda, and she flies back to Ghana to speak at Mary’s funeral.

Belinda grieves for Mary and continues to think about Amma, regretting her harshness. The novel ends with Belinda on her way to see her mother before she returns to London.

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This section contains 567 words
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Buy the Housegirl Study Guide
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