b2s pick: The Nao of Brown


The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon (Selfmadehero, 2012)

Summary: Twenty-eight-year-old Nao Brown, who’s hafu (half Japanese, half English), is not well. She’s suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and fighting violent urges to harm other people. But that’s not who she really wants to be. Nao has dreams. She wants to quiet her unruly mind; she wants to get her design and illustration career off the ground; and she wants to find love, perfect love.

Nao’s life continues to seesaw. Her boyfriend dumps her; a toy deal falls through. But she also meets Gregory, an interesting washing-machine repairman, and Ray, an art teacher at the Buddhist Center. She begins to draw and meditate to ease her mind and open her heart—and in doing so comes to a big realization: Life isn’t black-and-white after all . . . it’s much more like brown.

Notes: An story of self-acceptance. We always are ‘working’ ourselves, Nao’s character captures the constant battling of our desires and actions. She illustrates a brokenness in humanity, the feelings of being inadequate effect us in a world where perhaps we feel we have no control over our surroundings, situations and even on occasion, our thoughts. But it is our ability to overcome that shows our true strength as a species because we are all a little be messed up sometimes. A story of taking responsibility for your own actions, especially in a time where so few do.

Her life involves a small circle of wonderful characters: her roommate who works as a nurse; her friend and boss who owns a toy shop in central London; the washing machine repairman and his mother; and those who work at her local Buddhist center. The setting is anyone’s wonderfully self-contained dream, taking place in quaint London pubs and a Ghibli fans dream toy shop.

The scenes are a mix of her compulsive fantasies, a little fairytale story interspersed through the pages that mirror her life, and her day-to-day meanderings around London. A snapshot of one’s worst twenty-somethings struggles with identity, alcoholism, mental illness, romance, and inadequacies.

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