Jasper Jones

Craig Silvey

2010

Australian Fiction

Book Club

Paperback

★★★★★

 

‘Late on a hot summer night in 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan.

Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress. Jasper takes him to his secret glade in the bush, and it’s here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper’s horrible discovery.

With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother; falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu.

And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse.

In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.’

 

Jasper Jones is the Australian equivalent to Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. It is a truly great story that tackles a variety of issues facing Australians in the 1960s. You have racism against not just indigenous but the Vietnamese living in Australia. You have sexual abuse and incest. You have marital problems and cheating. You have stillbirth. You have suicide and depression. You have the Vietnam War. There is an array of issues that Silvey has wrapped up nicely into one moving novel.

The characters were amazing. Well thought out and complex. You didn’t love all the characters, instead you felt how you would feel in real life. You disliked Charlie’s mother. You hated Eliza’s father. You felt sorry for Jeffrey and his parents. You felt sorry for Jasper Jones. You wanted Charlie to have his resolution. You wanted Eliza to have closure.

I loved the relationships in this book. From the dysfunctional (Charlie and his mother) to the great friendships (Charlie and Jeffrey).

We did this book for Book Club at our local library and I was one of two who loved it. All the other ladies did not enjoy it at all. They suggested that it might be that I am in a different age bracket. This very well could be true. I loved this story. I loved everything about it. It has stayed with me and I have had trouble writing this review as I don’t know how to convey how good this book is.

My recommendation: If you love To Kill A Mockingbird, you will love Jasper Jones.

Cai xx

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