Kofi and the Rap Battle Summer

Jeffrey Boakye

Set in the 1990’s, I was quickly immersed in the world of Kofi and his friends and family in South London.

The characters are distinct and believable, their homes are particular and atmospheric. You hear the music, smell the food and feel the anxieties, rivalries, warmth that are the stuff of intimate family life. Kofi’s home is where he builds his understanding of his place in this world, with the help of his friends and family.

Whilst school is problematic, Kofi is keen to be recognised as a bigger character there. As he is finding his way, Kofi makes friends, learns to understand others more deeply and discovers the power of a voice, for himself and his friends.

The places beyond home and school – the estate, taxi office, chicken shop and parks are where Kofi meets peers and enemies, makes money and tries out his ideas. Finding your place and voice in the family, school and wider world is the stuff of becoming an adult
and this book evocatively and sensitively traces Kofi’s steps into this.

The references to music are authentic and exciting and the raps the boys create are funny and clever. Short chapters and sharp wit makes the book approachable and pacey. Resolutions are clever and realistic and grow from the characters, music and setting believably. I think this book would be great for children becoming immersed in longer stories and who like music and realism.

Although firmly embedded in a world of grumpy teachers, tired parents, bullies, police and impatient siblings Kofi learns and finds ways through, consequently the book is life affirming and positive.

Published by Faber & Faber

Reviewed by Fiona McMorrow