Monday 8 February 2021

Locks by Ashleigh Nugent | Blog Tour

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book in order to take part in this blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contain affiliate links.]

Locks by Ashleigh Nugent - 5/5
"Aeon is a mixed-race teenager from a middle-class English suburb. 

At sixteen, he has already been arrested three times for crimes he did not commit. Aeon is desperate to understand the Black identity foisted on him by others. 

For want of Black role models, Aeon has immersed himself in gangsta rap, grown dreadlocks, and bought 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. 

Aeon’s cousin, Increase, is from a Birmingham ghetto. He has lived with Aeon’s family since his dad, a Yardie gangster, died during the ‘81 riots. In a bid to be his father’s antithesis, Increase has immersed himself in conservative Christianity, anti-Black ideology, and plaid tank tops. Now Increase is alone in Jamaica. He is being extorted by a criminal gang because of Aeon, and he thinks the owner of their hotel is in on the plot. 

Once back together, the cousins must attempt to stay alive, atone with their ancestors, and escape from Jamaica illegally."

This book is just wonderful and I am in awe that it is based on a true story.

The novel follows Aeon, a mixed race 16 year old from Searbank (a fictional suburb of Liverpool). Growing up in England with a Black father and white mother, he was subject to racial abuse but he was never really in tune with that part of his heritage. He decides to embrace it and visits Jamaica, where his father is from, to see if he can learn more about his culture, but in Jamaica he is seen as the White boy.

He travels with his (reluctant) cousin Increase who is eight years his senior. Increase has shunned his heritage after his father (Aeon's uncle) died in the 1981 riots. Jamaica is not kind to Aeon and within a matter of days he is mugged, stabbed, arrested and jailed. Whilst imprisoned, someone he had a run in with is wanting money, going after Increase to get it.

Once Aeon is bailed, they decide they need to get out of Jamaica as quickly as they can, illegally.

Honestly, I couldn't put this down. Ashleigh Nugent is a storyteller, that's for sure. I was so immersed in the story and felt like I could picture everything so clearly. I think having the Jamaican patois and Scouse dialect really helped - I could hear every "like" and "la"! The scenes of the prisons Aeon was kept in and his relationships both in there and with Increase are fantastic. It is a wonderfully descriptive story about a boy trying to find himself.

Aeon thinks back to his teenage years with his mates, Kissy Sunshine (the only girl he ever liked) and his teacher Miss Elwyn and everything that she taught him about being a hero.

It made me want to cry, I felt shocked, I laughed out loud, it educated. It gave me everything. I know it is only part fact but reading this after knowing that Nugent himself fled a Jamaican jail at the age of 17 just blows my mind. The Q&A with Nugent at the end of the book is massively insightful.

I must add that there are a lot of racial epithets used throughout the book that would have been the norm in the 80s and 90s. Just to make readers aware in case that is something that they'd like to avoid.


A massive thank you to Rachel's Random Resources for organising the blog tour and Ashleigh Nugent for sending me a copy of the book.

Author: Ashleigh Nugent

You can find information about the other bloggers taking part in this tour in the graphic below.

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