I had the pleasure of attending the launch of ‘The Ones We Find’ by Ama Pomaa on October 7, 2023. Nestled in the heart of Ajiringanor, a suburb of Accra, the event unfolded in the quiet embrace of a beautiful restaurant, MyWeku Gardens, creating an intimate atmosphere that perfectly mirrored the nature of the author.
The talk of the evening, aside from the literary brilliance encapsulated within the book’s 367 pages, centered on Ama’s petite frame juxtaposed against the substantial volume of her work. ‘The Ones We Find’ is a showcase of the unassuming depth that lies within her words and serves as a testament to her understated tenacity.
Ama Pomaa’s unassuming nature extends beyond her physical presence; it’s woven into the very fabric of her being as a writer. Having encountered her at various literary gatherings, I’ve been struck by her mostly quiet demeanor. At these events, she’s known for saying no more than a handful of words, and during the brief interview at the book launch, I regretted my lateness that caused me to miss an opportunity to hear her speak more than a few words at a time.
Even in the post-launch ambiance, she remained reserved, offering only a sparing glimpse into the mind that crafted such a compelling book. It’s this quietude that adds another tier of intrigue to her work, leaving readers to unravel the depths of her stories without the guiding hand of an overtly expressive author.
At the heart of ‘The Ones We Find’ is the captivating journey of Marilyn Tagoe, a young woman who dons the mantle of Nancy Drew in a quest to untangle the threads of her boss’s murder. As she navigates the intricacies of solving this mysterious crime, Marilyn finds herself entangled in the resurgence of long-buried secrets from her own past.
The narrative unfolds with a gripping tension as Marilyn grapples not only with the external pursuit of justice but also with the internal echoes of her history. The convergence of these two storylines promises a riveting exploration of crime, personal revelation, and the compelling consequences that follow.
Ama Pomaa demonstrates a masterful command of storytelling, skillfully weaving a tapestry of themes that encompass intrigue or mystery, feminism, love, friendship, religion, and societal expectations in ‘The Ones We Find.’ The narrative unfolds with a simplicity that belies the richness of vocabulary, offering readers an opportunity to enhance their linguistic repertoire. In her storytelling approach, Pomaa strikes a balance reminiscent of literary greats like Peggy Oppong and Francine Rivers.
The narrative is textured with scripture references, seamlessly blending the characters’ faith into the fabric of the story. While the author’s Christian perspective is evident, it’s presented with a nuanced touch that includes subtle critiques, particularly in the characters of Pastor Rex, Christiana (Marilyn’s mother) and Maa Philo (her mother-in-law), providing a thought-provoking layer to the exploration of faith within the narrative.
‘The Ones We Find’ defies the conventional wisdom of elaborate chapter titles, presenting a refreshing approach to storytelling. Ama Pomaa’s decision to forgo chapter markings creates an immersive reading experience where the absence of distinct breaks allows for an almost unconscious consumption of the narrative. The crispness of the chapters contributes to a seamless reading flow, a unique departure from the norm, especially for a mystery and intrigue novel.
What sets this organization apart is the incorporation of little short stories within each chapter, cleverly punctuated with breaks at precisely the right moments. These mini narratives serve as suspenseful fragments, strategically placing cliffhangers that elicit a range of emotional responses—from chuckles to sighs, and even breathless anticipation. It’s a testament to Pomaa’s storytelling prowess, engaging readers in a rollercoaster of feelings as they navigate the intricacies of the plot.
Ama Pomaa skillfully peels back the layers of her characters in ‘The Ones We Find,’ inviting readers on an intimate journey of discovery. The unfolding narrative is akin to a gradual revelation, where each page and chapter unveils new dimensions to the characters. The author’s artistry lies in keeping readers on their toes, pointing fingers at any and everyone in this thriller, never allowing them to fully grasp any one character at once. Just as you believe you’ve unraveled the complexities of a persona, Pomaa introduces yet another facet, adding depth and nuance to the narrative tapestry.
This technique keeps readers engaged, making the character exploration an ongoing process, mirroring the unpredictability of real-life individuals. Personally connecting with the characters becomes an immersive experience, akin to navigating a maze of personalities and stories intricately woven into the overarching mystery.
Even when the overarching storyline becomes apparent, as with David Nouah’s role as the antagonist, Pomaa expertly withholds the full extent of each character’s capabilities, creating a suspenseful and gripping ambiance that transcends the murder investigation, intertwining seamlessly with the labyrinthine facets of Marilyn’s life.
As a writer myself, the first thing that pulls at me while I read the book is admiration. Ama Pomaa’s ability to capture my attention from start to finish is commendable. Throughout the narrative, there wasn’t a single dull moment or flat phase, which is a rarity in my experience. Reading for the purpose of writing a review can often feel like an academic pursuit, requiring pens and paper to mark various sections and make notes.
However, with ‘The Ones We Find,’ the chore of searching for a pen was a testament to the book’s immersive quality—I was unwilling to pause the reading to hunt for scribbling material. Beyond my admiration for the entire work, it’s the simplicity that also captivates me. Pomaa’s diction is notable, and her use of dialogue is a standout feature. It’s tempting to say there’s a good blend of dialogue and narration, but that would be a disservice. Pomaa and her book challenge conventions about the balance between narration and dialogue.
Despite having more dialogue than narration, it never feels laborious to discern who is speaking at any given time. The seamless integration of dialogue enhances the reading experience, and rather than growing tired of it, I found it to be a refreshing and integral aspect of the narrative.
As a fervent advocate for self-publishing and its increasing legitimacy, I find a twinge of melancholy contemplating the potential limitations faced by this remarkable work of creativity, deprived of the comprehensive support a traditional publisher could provide in terms of distribution and marketing.
Nevertheless, I am acutely aware of the unwavering self-belief, grit, and tenacity required to tread the self-publishing path. While I harbor a sense of regret for the missed opportunities that traditional publishing might have offered, I also harbor hope. Hope that the literary landscape evolves to embrace and recognize self-published gems like ‘The Ones We Find.’
It is my fervent desire that esteemed book awards organizations extend their embrace to include self-published works, acknowledging their merit. I firmly believe that this novel, with its intricate storytelling and compelling narrative, stands worthy of acclaim and should be considered for numerous awards. The journey of self-publishing may lack some of the conveniences of traditional routes, yet it brings forth a unique strength and authenticity that deserves to be celebrated on a broader stage.
‘The Ones We Find’ is a literary gem that transcends age groups and educational backgrounds. Its universal appeal makes it a compelling read for readers of all tastes and preferences. Whether you are a seasoned bookworm or a casual reader, this book offers a captivating experience that resonates across diverse audiences. I wholeheartedly recommend ‘The Ones We Find’ and encourage everyone to secure a copy. Its rich narrative, intricate characters, and thought-provoking themes make it a must-read that promises to leave a lasting impression.
>>>the writer, alias Nana Elikem, is a Business Intelligence Analyst by profession. He is also an author, an editor, and a columnist. He is also a founding member of a writers and readers community in Accra, Ghana called the Writers and Readers’ Grotto. The community meets monthly to discuss and peer review the creative works of members. Elikem is also passionate about the development of youth and young people in Ghana. He can be reached via [email protected]