Published by Harper Collins in the UK on 16th March 2021. I received an eARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Similarly to my last review (of A Rhythm of Prayer by Sarah Bessey) this was another book that I came across unexpectedly at a time when I really needed it. The central theme of this book is grief and how Guvna B came to better understand and express his emotions through his experience of loss.
Guvna B is a ‘clean’ rap artist from London – meaning his lyrics don’t contain swearing, misogynistic or sexually explicit language or references to drugs and gang culture. Although he grew up in London, his parents were both originally from Ghana and Ghanaian culture had a huge influence on his upbringing. This book covers his childhood, getting his big break, his marriage and his life in general, through to the unexpected loss of his father and two of his close friends. He explains how cultural and social expectations meant he didn’t know how to healthily deal with his emotions until he was overwhelmed by grief and he realised he wasn’t able to cope. He unpacks the lessons he learnt about himself and the impact of toxic masculinity to help his readers better understand how to love through difficult experiences.
Guvna B writes in a very conversational tone which I think will appeal to his target audience of teenage boys and young adult men who listen to his music. In terms of the style of writing it was an easy read, although he covers some deep and difficult topics in a sensitively and appropriate way. While I recognise I am not the intended market for this book – I only knew one of his songs before I read it – I still took a lot from it as I was going through a grieving process myself.
I hope a lot of young men get access to and read this book. I hope they find hope within its pages, and a way to improve themselves and their situations by better understanding their emotions and their worth.
Content warnings: alcoholism, death, grief, mental illness, suicidal thoughts, suicide, racism, violence, references to gang culture.
Ebook received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
A Rhythm of Prayer edited by Sarah Bessey, published in the UK by SPCK, released 8th February 2021
I am a firm believer that sometimes a book appears in your life right when you most need it. I joined NetGalley in December and was browsing the Non-fiction theology/Christian titles in early January and saw this book. I put in a request, and being new to the site I am always surprised when my requests are granted. With a busy start to my university term I thought it unlikely that I would have time to read it before it came out.
Then my Nan tested positive for Covid and was taken into hospital. The prognosis was poor, and I found myself unable to find the words to pray. I was nudged towards this book, sitting waiting on my Kindle app. For the first few days I managed to read one prayer or reflection, and the words resonated deeply in my soul and helped me find my way through the grief and despair that threatened to become overwhelming.
The prayers and reflections on prayer are drawn from real life, in all its beauty and confusingness. As I put my roots down deeper into the Anglican church, I am growing more familiar with the power of liturgy for when you can’t find the right words yourself. This book for me is already being incorporated into my ministry as an ordinand, and will be a resource I return to repeatedly through the course of my ministry. One of the reflections – ‘A Reminder’ by Sarah Bessey – I have already used in a church service I was leading and with my tutor group (I also heartily recommended the book on both occasions).
I love the diversity represented by the authors of the prayers. Although I believe they are all cisgendered women, they represent many different cultural backgrounds, sexualities and several are people with disabilities. They also come from a number of different church traditions, although predominantly from America and a fair number are from evangelical denominations. For me it was powerful to read these reflections from a range of different voices, whose experiences may be very different from my own, yet they resonated with me. These are also voices that are not always given enough time and space within our churches.
I really loved this book, so much so that I have already bought a hard copy. It came at a time when I really needed it, and I know I will frequently return to it and by nourished by it throughout my life and ministry.
there are five stages of grief
But what I now know
is that it is not a linear path
Yesterday, I knew she was gone
Today it does not quite feel real again
Some days, I can laugh and find joy
Others, sadness wraps around me
Like a blanket
And I sit
I do not want to move
Because a world without her
seems less bright somehow
I’ve heard there is a sixth stage
I know I’m not there yet
Because how do we find meaning in this?
The weight of all the world has lost
Seems too heavy to bear
The numbers ticking ever upward
and she is not just a statistic -
The hopes and dreams
Can there be?
Can we find meaning in such dark times?
I don’t want to trivialise
or anyone else’s
with trite phrases
But I do know
I am not alone
I do somehow have hope
Despite everything that’s lost
I will not be overcome