TALES OF NASH by Ann Worthington is the story of Nash Atherton, a high school student living in Portland, Oregon with his mother. Nash’s mother works overnight nursing shifts, leaving him unsupervised more often than not. When Nash doesn’t make the varsity basketball team, his life takes off on a downward spiral as he and his friends experiment with drugs and alcohol. A bender weekend lands Nash in legal trouble, and his mother forces him to spend four months on his grandfather’s modest homestead, deprived of all connection to his destructive life in Portland.
The story opens with Nash being detained by police for his possible connection to his grandfather’s death. Through comfortably paced alternating chapters of present action and flashbacks to life before the story’s opening, readers learn the details of Nash’s downward trajectory alongside the consequences of those actions unfolding before him. Middle-grade readers will likely find Nash and his feelings toward being raised by a single parent and the compounding social pressures of teenage life to be relatable. However, more mature readers might be bored with the story and uninspired by the lack of a clear overarching theme or message. At first glance, this might be a tale of redemption or a lesson about honesty as these ideas are present throughout, but the story never lands on a solid resolve or lesson learned. The inclusion of some greater message that transforms Nash’s story from a retelling of events to more of a purposeful journey for readers to share would significantly strengthen the piece.
The dialogue throughout is believable and adds life to the story. However, it could be livelier with more description of character action and blocking intertwined, and some sections of dialogue fall flat as a result. TALES OF NASH is told from Nash’s point of view, and for the most part, his internal narrative sounds very true to that of a seventeen-year-old boy. The phrasing misses the mark at times in his internal narrative, though, sounding more like a mature person than the mildly educated kid who keeps finding himself in trouble.
Elements including strong, believable dialogue and interesting and relatable characters will keep Middle readers interested in Ann Worthington’s TALES OF NASH, the story of a high school student who gets in over his head.
~Katherine Ripley for IndieReader