Reviews /

Steady for This

Authored by Nathanael Lessore
Published by Hot Key Books

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Steady for This tells the story of 13-year-old Shaun (preferably known as the rapper, MC Growls) as he navigates daily, high school life in South London. From dealing with disastrous first dates, to social media dramas and balancing new friendships, this novel offers a window into real-life challenges that many families face – debt, threat of eviction and health problems. Growls’ passion is his music and he wants to use his talent to enter the local Raptology competition. When his best friend Shanks falls ill, he has a difficult choice to make. Can he brave the stage without his best friend by his side? Can his rhymes prove victorious?   

This refreshing debut novel by South East London author Nathanael Lessore offers authenticity whilst maintaining a light, comical tone that will engage teenage readers. The vibrant, visual appeal of the cover makes this title pop and could potentially draw in more reluctant readers when browsing the shelf. Modern slang dialect is used by the main character throughout the novel (which, due to my unfamiliarity, took me some time to get used to) which might also draw in readers of this age. There is regular ‘code shifting’ as dialogue bounces from slang to other forms of language used by the influential people in Growls’ life – his mum, his English teacher, Mr Rix, and his home-schooled friend, Siobhan. I particularly liked the dimension that Mr Rix’s character brought to the story, helping Growls to realise the power of unearthing the history of rap music, forging a connection through mutual interest in an art form.  

Ultimately, this is a story about the support and love of family and friends. Through the challenges that Growls faces, his support system is there for him, helping him to drive forward to achieve his dreams. When reading the author’s bio, it was refreshing to find out that Lessore was keen to show his South East London childhood reflected in a story as ‘the funny, warm, adventurous world that wasn’t always represented as such.’  Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2024, Steady for This is perfect to share with teenagers who are looking for a vibrant, new read. 

Winner of the Branford Boase Award 2024

Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2024 Fiction 11-14+