by Grahame Bent and Barry Sugarman


'HOW TO SURVIVE PUBERTY AT 25' by Nina Bhadreshwar (Authorhouse)

Gangster chronicle...

Essentially two books in one, Bhadreshwar's compulsively readable memoir starts with recollections of growing up in a mixed race family in Barnsley. A questing soul, compounded by major body/control issues and an uncertain spirituality, her early life is defined by a crippling eating disorder that consumes her first quarter century and delays the titular puberty.  She finds solace in music, graffiti and journalism, founding and editing 'The Real State' magazine to reflect her interests as she beats a nomadic trail around the UK and beyond.

Eventually - and call this the second book - she winds up doing missionary work in Watts, before her journo credentials lead her to Death Row Records, shortly after the LA riots. It's no surprise the label is run somewhat erratically - often around the whims of its CEO Suge Knight and Bhadreshwar's close, unconsummated relationship with Tupac only adds to the building cauldron. But her goose is cooked when Knight gets wind of her part in Snoop's plans for a breakaway label. It all goes haywire - and that's before mysterious 'gangster' Jeff Calhoun enters the fray, blinding and scaring with a particularly verbose strain of mind-bending psychobabble.

It's not all good. Bhadreshwar has a propensity to repeat the same trivial details on occasion - with a story this rollicking, who cares what she had for breakfast or how much it cost? - and her grammar slips into cringe-inducing '90s rap-speak during the L A period. Also, a decent editor would have corralled the story's frightening denouement into a far more cogent climax rather than resorting to mere diary entries. But, as a raw document of a life most definitely lived, a girl lost in the whirlwind and a fresh insight into the underlying madness of Death Row, it's vital.