Today I’m pleased to share my review for Locks: A Story Based on True Events by Ashleigh Nugent. The blurb caught my attention but so did the book cover. It is one of those illustrations where the more you look, the more you see and once you read the book, it takes on a greater meaning. Scroll down to see what I thought of the Locks.
Book Review: Locks by Ashleigh Nugent
Title: Locks: A Story Based on True Events
Author: Ashleigh Nugent
Publisher: RiseUp CIC
Release date: 17 Sept. 2020
Genre: fictional biography,
LOCKS: A Story Based on True Events
“1993 was the year that Stephen Lawrence got murdered by racists, and I became an angry Black lad with a ‘chip on his shoulder’.”
Aeon is a mixed-race teenager from an English suburb. He is desperate to be understand the Black identity foisted on him by racist police, teachers, and ‘friends’. For want of Black role models, Aeon has immersed himself in gangsta rap, he’s trying to grow dreadlocks, and he’s bought himself some big red boots.
And now he’s in Jamaica.
Within days of being in Jamaica, Aeon has been mugged and stabbed, arrested and banged up.
Aeon has to fight for survival, fight for respect, and fight for his big red boots. And he has to fight for his identity because, here, Aeon is the White boy.
Orders also available from: www.newsfromnowhere.org.uk
Some books you read, enjoy and put down to read the next one but others you put down and the story stays with you; the character drags you back to think about it and you long to talk to the author to know more. More about what happens next and the inspiration behind the novel. This book is one of those. I was pleased to see the Q and A with Ashleigh Nugent at the end to satisfy some of this lingering curiosity.
It is based in 1993, a year I remember well because it was a whirlwind of A-level exams, University interviews and flying the nest for the first time. The stark difference of my 1993 versus Aeon’s made this more poignant and eye opening for me when the first page threw me into an unfamiliar world as Aeon arrives in Jamaica. He is struggling to find his identity in England, where he is seen as Black and treated appallingly with racist comments and names thrown at him. He wants to embrace his differences and claim his Jamaican heritage by being more Black. Yet in Jamaica he is seen as White. He struggles with this clash of opinions and finds himself in trouble with stabbings, drugs, and prison where the conditions are horrific. The blurb told me where his attitude was leading him and I found myself wanting to yell at him to walk away and to not get involved. His chip on his shoulder and teenage cocky attitude made him difficult to like straight away but he grew on me and as a Mum, I longed to reach out and rescue him. He was so young to be faced with the decisions he was making and the consequences.
There is a mystical thread running through the story which grows towards the end which was a joy to read and makes me want to reread to see if it alters the reading experience.
The novel is told as the Hero’s Journey, which works well in this important coming of age story.
The book contains offensive language which jarred and made it difficult to read to begin with but appropriate to Aeon world and story. Don’t let that stop you reading this emotional, tension filled and honest story.
Would I recommend?
Yes! It is miles away from the comfortable escapism books I have read recently but it is one that I’m so glad I came across. It has affected me more than I was expecting and hard to put my finger on it but some of it is realising how much I need to learn about Black history and knowing the events were based on a true story. With the events of 2020 and the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests, diverse books have become more important than ever and need to be shouted about and read.
I would love to see how this story translate on stage and the impact it has.
Ashleigh Nugent has been published in academic journals, poetry anthologies, and magazines. His latest work, LOCKS, is based on a true story: the time he spent his 17th birthday in a Jamaican detention centre. LOCKS won the 2013 Commonword Memoir Competition and has had excerpts published by Writing on the Wall and in bido lito magazine. Ashleigh’s one-man-show, based on LOCKS, has won support from SLATE / Eclipse Theatre, and won a bursary from Live Theatre, Newcastle. The show has received rave audience reviews following showings in theatres and prisons throughout the UK. Ashleigh is also a director at RiseUp CiC, where he uses his own life experience, writing, and performance to support prisoners and inspire change.
Social Media Links –
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/LocksBook
Twitter – @LocksBook
Instagram – @locksbook
YouTube Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8TVrX7J2j4
Have you read Locks? I would to know your thoughts as well as your recommendations for more own voice novels. Why not pop to other blogs on this tour to learn more about this book and its author?
Thanks again Rachel Random Resources and Ashleigh Nugent for a copy of Locks so I could review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.
Happy reading and stay safe!