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.