Bad Love is one of Jacaranda Books‘ #Twentyin2020 – a campaign to publish 20 Black authors throughout the year across various genres. I grabbed a copy of it when I was making a conscious effort to purchase from Black-owned bookshops; I found Jacaranda via a Google search before I realised that they were a publishing house as well as a bookshop, and I was intrigued by #Twentyin2020
This is the story of Ekuah Danquah: a London-born Ghanaian woman. Her story really begins as a teenager who is just embarking on a life away from her parents. We join her as she starts university, and quickly falls in love for the first time with a man named Dee.
Alongside all of this is Ekuah’s flourishing career; she finds herself thrust into the world of spoken word poetry, and it allows her to thrive as she finds her calling. Her work takes her across the world, travelling to Ghana, Italy and France, and the poetry that she both writes and encourages others to engage with has a large part to play in her growth.
The narrative follows Ekuah as she deals with what first, all-encompassing love means. When Dee suddenly drops out of her life, she has to nurse her broken heart at the same time as figuring out what she wants to pursue as a career. Things are complicated even further by her parents; Ekuah has always been aware that things have been difficult between them, but as she moves out of the family home, it becomes clear that as the glue that was holding them together, without her they may have reached the end of their own road.
I particularly loved the way that Maame Blue interweaved Ekuah’s parents’ marriage, and all of its accompanying problems, into the narrative alongside her relationships. The way Ekuah perceived her parents’ relationship bore so heavily on how she felt about both Dee, and her second serious boyfriend Jay. Tension and resentment loom large and affect Ekuah seriously, and it eventually becomes clear that she needs to deal with how she relates to her parents and their marriage before she can expect to understand her own relationships fully.
I thought Bad Love was a wonderful novel, one that made me want to race through it to discover what would happen to Ekuah next, but also savour every page as the writing is so engaging. As with all the best characters, Ekuah has stayed with me since I finished it, my mind keeps wandering back to her as I wonder how she is and what she’s doing.
Bad Love is available from everywhere you usually get your books, but consider buying from a Black-owned business such as direct from Jacaranda Books.