It’s the first day of #DiverseDecember and my plan is an advent style post a day from now until the 24th. There will be more post-Christmas, but more on that later. Lots of my recommendations will be from small / indie presses. You can buy books direct from many of them and there will be links at the end of each post. A reminder that you can follow @DiverseDecember on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where I’ll be posting recommendations every day and sharing those from other bloggers / reviewers.
My Day 1 recommendation is Bad Love by Maame Blue
I am not a romantic. I do not know how to tell those kinds of stories, the ones filled with magic and laughter and a purple hue. Romance has never connected with me in that way. But love – hard, bad, rough love – well, I could speak on that all day.
Ekuah begins her story by introducing us to herself and to Dee. When the book starts, they are both students. Young and wary, they dance around each other, obviously attracted but playing a game of push and pull. Ekuah likes to feel needed and arranges much of her life around Dee’s movements. He’s a musician, just starting out, which often makes his appearances irregular and unpredictable.
Following a trip to Venice to stay with her cousin and a violent incident while she’s there, Ekuah returns with a changed outlook and begins volunteering at an after-school club. During an evening at a spoken word night, Ekuah meets Jay Stanley. English teacher by day, spoken word event coordinator by night, Jay brings some stability to Ekuah’s life. Dee never quite disappears though, and through her relationship to both men, Ekuah has to work out what sort of life she wants to live.
In the background to all this, there’s a significant subplot about Ekuah’s parent’s marriage. They are clearly having some issues that neither of them wants to confront, at least not in Ekuah’s presence. Their story provides an interesting counterpoint to Ekuah’s.
Maame Blue weaves a story of a young woman navigating significant decisions about the work she wants to do, the lifestyle she wants to have, and the type of love she wants in her life. Of course, all of these things overlap, and Blue creates a skilful and nuanced portrait of how Ekuah comes to this realisation. Although I was interested in the men she was involved with, my feelings about each of them shifting with each interaction, I was rooting for Ekuah. What I wanted, more than anything, was for her to invest in herself. Whether or not she manages it, you’ll have to find out yourself!
Bad Love is an absorbing portrait of a young woman learning how to love and how to live. I loved it.
Bad Love is one of Jacaranda Books’ Twenty in 2020 publications. You can read more (and buy the books!) via their website.
The copy of the book I read was my own purchase.