Maame Blue’s debut novel Bad Love is a romance. Not of the fluttering hearts and butterflies variety. Blue says it best herself:
I’m not a romantic. But love- hard, bad, rough love- well, i could speak on that all day
I haven’t read anything of the genre in years and this was an easy, entertaining reintroduction. Ekuah just felt so familiar!
Bad Love follows Ekuah Danquah, a young woman navigating what power dynamics mean in a relationship, while still learning who she is. Dee Emeka is an erratic, attractive musician she meets on a night out. She quickly falls in love with him , spends all her time with him…… Then he disappears after over a year. Big time ghosting. BIG.
Energised by music and spoken word poetry, Bad Love sees Ekuah continue to love with her heart on her sleeve as her work takes her from London to Venice, Accra, Paris and back again.
The relationship dynamics she navigates are not only her own. She is discovering who her parents are outside of being her’s. Who are they to each other, in truth? Who are they to this outsider, Genie? Have they influenced Ekuah’s ability to love?
Ekuah’s well written, consistent character is the strongest point
Maame Blue revealed Ekuah’s thoughts and feelings with a vulnerable honesty, allowing the reader to make realisations with her. Her growth is apparent as the story progresses, I couldn’t help feeling happy for her when she seemed to regain footing. Perhaps the strongest point of this book is how well rounded and consistent Ekuah is written as a character. She did some stupid things, she isn’t perfectly likeable. I like my female protagonists genuine and she did feel real, if a little naive. Maame Blue also has a talent for filling non central characters out well by honing in on the protagonist’s perspective of them. Ekuah’s family – Mum, Dad, Amelia- had credible arcs of their own, without stealing focus.
Bad Love is relatable
Im always excited to discover the nuances of being a Ghanaian Brit featured in stories! Blue weaves them into Ekuah’s interactions with her parents with the authenticity of someone who knows. It’s so powerful to see yourself specifically in the people and places of a book. The family involvements really tickled me! I know the Ghanaian community in London is small enough that at least 30% of your friends’ parents will already know your mum and the gossip will be wild!
Despite that specificity for me, what really works about this book is how generally relatable it is. A phase in early adulthood spent figuring out your needs, balancing friends and family, separating loves from lusts. There is an obvious coming of age element that I think anyone will recognise personally. I wish I had read more books like this so I’d know where to place it- but I really don’t!
I think there is a certain amount of ‘will-they-wont-they’ that creates needed tension for romance novels. Since I don’t read the genre often, that aspect did seem drawn out for me at times and I would have liked to have seen a different ending! Even still, it is a pretty realistic close to the book.
The prose was very light, with an enjoyably natural flow. It took a minute to get used to the very descriptive (more of gradual emotions than scenes) writing style. I hadn’t even planned to read it when I did but finished it fairly quickly.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and will definitely be picking up any other novel Maame Blue writes! This one in particular would be a perfect holiday read. The story made me realise I’m really for lacking those light reads, I need more!
To be honest, what I would really love is Ekuah’s Mum and Genie’s back story, including flashbacks between London and Ghana. They are definitely the most interesting people in the book for me, if a little selfish!
Vivienne Acheampong narrates Bad love on Audible- It is amazing!
Vivienne Acheampong narrating Bad Love is actually perfection from the word Go, listen to it! Brings the story to life in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Imagine audio books making me second guess my imagination. I only found out about the audiobook after I’d finished reading but it completely enhanced the story!
Jacaranda Books Twenty in 2020
Bad Love by Maame Blue was published by Jacaranda Books as one of it’s Twenty In 2020. The independent publisher, in conjunction with Words Of Colour, pledged to publish 20 Black British authors this year. Read more about it here
Maame Blue co-hosts podcast Headscarves and Carry-ons. Also blogs at www.maamebluewrites.com
Absolutely beautiful illustrated cover art by the wonderfully talented Dapo Adeola, of Look Up Fame! Bad Love has one of the best covers I have seen in a long time