Finalists for Book Awards in New Zealand always deliver classic stories that are layered. They provide narratives that are both quintessentially Kiwi, yet also original and fascinating. Draw me a Hero by NK Ashworth effectively does both.
The New Zealand-ness is undeniable with characters living and breathing the kiwi style - replete with effective kiwi language, but at the same time there is a thought provoking plotline based around the protagonist - Jane Dawson (J.D. for short) and a mystery leading man - Bailey.
J.D.’s family life is challenging to say the least. Her mum is a single mother with her father long gone with not so much as a card or kind look. It really has been a tough ride for the Dawson family. But with the entry of Bailey - a boy whose furtive past seems to never resolve - their fortunes change almost overnight. J.D.'s mum is dating again, her sister is on the mend from a pretty dangerous situation, and J.D. is deeply in love.
As you’d expect, nothing is what it seems and before you know it the narrative takes some unexpected twists and turns with Ashworth firmly in control of the roller coaster narrative.
Firstly, Bailey isn’t quite the person he says he is. He remains forever hungry throughout the course of events and, for some reason, never seems to want to go home. It’s only later that we realise the reason for this reservation is about his family and his seemingly lack of a home. Plus, is Bailey really his real name? Or one adopted for the purpose of a large scale ruse?
J.D. is a fantastic artist, she loves comics in particular and is in the latter stages of creating her own hero - Proton. Bailey, with his writing prowess, is the perfect partner to finish the job. But there seems a lot more to him as a hero than meets the eye. Something in his past perhaps? Something he may be hiding? The reasons why are many and varied! It’s worth reading just for the comic book itself!
Ashworth is a self-proclaimed late bloomer when it comes to the writing game, kicking it off after her 50th birthday. She has a really solid grasp on all things literary from maintaining storytelling with quality prose writing.
As far as narrative writing goes, the presentation of a novel in first person has the potential to be dull and, at times, inauthentic. Neither of these two adjectives really connect with the novel Draw me a Hero. Instead, it is full of excitement, action and quality writing. Perfect of that intermediate level and deals with some pretty hard hitting ideas such as anorexia, teenage love, introspection, confidence and judging a book by its cover.
A must read and well worth the nomination for the New Zealand book award finalists.
Title: Draw me a Hero
Author: NK Ashworth
Publisher: Lasavia Printing
Reviewer: Chris Reed
How are you recommending this book? Recommended
First line: There is a superhero standing in our kitchen doorway.
You can buy this book here