Fifteen-year-old Donald Leroy Samson is the son of an absentee St. Lucian father and a drug-addicted English mother. Growing up in dire poverty in Hackney, East London, his life is shaped by casual violence, gang initiation, drug-dealing, and knife crime. When Donny’s bored, rich, white girlfriend Zoe is offered a dubious modeling audition, the couple "borrow" a barge and navigate the 29 locks on the canal system from Hertfordshire down into Kings Cross. When they start out on their journey, the future for both of them looks unpromising, like the fake audition, but as each lock is navigated and conquered, as the waters fall then rise again, their adventure takes on a new dimension. Life will never be the same again. A gritty, urban tale of redemption.
About the Author
Nicola Garrard grew up in Devon, France and Sussex. She studied English Literature, with a focus on representations of race in Early Modern theatre. She has taught in secondary schools for twenty-three years. Her first novel, 29 Locks was shortlisted in the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize and the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition. She lives in Sussex with her partner, three children and a Jack Russell terrier. Her family is typical of modern Britain, with roots in England, Scotland and Trinidad.
"It crackles off the page!" —Alex Wheatle
"Urgent, gripping, relevant and important: I loved 29 Locks." —Anthony McGowan, winner of the Carnegie Award 2020
"This novel is an anthem for the ordinary spirit that burns so fiercely inside each of us. A must-read for all young adults with a desire to be whole." —Aoife Fitzpatrick, winner of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2020
"An essential read for the many young people today who can relate to Donny, showing them that amidst all the pain and inequalities of the world, justice can still be served and a future can be built from learning and kindness." —Ms Florence Bauhofer, PLS EAL Department
"It’s a perfect book for people my age. Donny inspires me. I would recommend it to all my friends." —Othman, aged 15, Prendergast Ladywell School
"An insight into a life of circumstances very different to my own. It showed the importance of knowing that people care about and believe in you." —Mara Gillan, aged 14, Stirlingshire
"I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of when I lost a relative in prison. I felt all the emotions and pain Donny had gone through for his mother. A very good book for teens." —Reader in Drake Hall Prison and Young Offender Institution for Women over 18 years old
"A great book! The language is very realistic because it shows how people my age talk. I think this book is important because it shows all the problems teenagers deal with in and outside of schools." —Raphael, aged 15, Prendergast Ladywell School
"I felt like I was on the same adventure as the main character! This book makes you feel like Donny." —Lily, aged 15, Islington, London
"29 Locks hooked me from page one. This book lulls you into a sense of safety and then hits you hard. Everyone should read it. I loved the book!" —Clare Weize, author of The Lightning Catcher