Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is a self-described “Queens girl.” But she’s a Queens girl with a twist — Brew-Hammond went to secondary school in Ghana.

 

“I was born here. My parents just decided to send my siblings and me to school there,” she tells us. According to Brew-Hammond, it’s a common practice. “A lot of parents sent their kids in order to be connected with their culture. And also for financial reasons — it’s a lot cheaper.”

 

Lila Adjei, the heroine in her new book, “Powder Necklace,” also gets sent to boarding school in Ghana. “It’s inspired by [my life] but definitely fictionalized,” says Brew-Hammond, and notes that the overarching themes of the book — community, loneliness, assimilation, and holding onto one’s culture — are all things she experienced.

 

“I really wanted to put something out there that would let people know that the world is bigger than your high school or neighborhood,” she says. “And that you should investigate where you come from, instead of being ashamed. Each time I edited the book, I thought to myself, ‘I’m glad I’m able to put this out there.’ As a kid, I really needed a book like this.”