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Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
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Jasper Jones

by Craig Silvey

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1,0487212,214 (4.01)88
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» See also 88 mentions

English (71)  German (1)  All languages (72)
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
Comparing any book with To Kill A Mockingbird is a bold claim. Some make the grade - The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H Winthrop comes close - and some, like this one, are only talking the talk. There's a sad little mystery at the heart of Jasper Jones, but namedropping Atticus FInch every now and again wasn't enough to win me over.

Thirteen year old Charlie Bucktin is persuaded to dispose of a body by a boy he only knows by reputation, the Jasper Jones of the title, who has been made an outcast because he's half Aboriginal in a small(minded) Australian town. That's the alarming opening chapter, which sort of simmers below the everyday drama of being a teenager, caught between the innocence of childhood and the disappointment and betrayal of adulthood. The thread of Mockingbird is there, but the tapestry never really comes together because Charlie's first person narration lacks Harper Lee's deft touch. Balancing the experience and awareness of adult Jean Louise FInch with the bright charm and bluntness of her six year old self is what sells the story in Mockingbird. Here we get a precocious manchild who speaks in poetic diatribes, in between joking banter with his best friend Jeffrey and describing cricket matches at length (could have lived without that chapter, thanks). 'Every new word is like getting a punch back. No matter how obscure or archaic, I eat them up and let them settle. I collect words and lock them away; stored like a hoard of gems,' Charlie explains, but I think a normal thirteen year old boy, like the one who fights with his mother and blushes when a girl talks to him, would have been easier to listen to. Charlie's melodramatic voice completely threw me out of the story. The film adaptation, focusing on the plot and not the prose, might be easier on the imagination.

Charlie aside, I must admit that I kept reading to find out who the killer was. The premise is slightly ridiculous - throwing a body into the water so that Jasper and Charlie have time to 'investigate' the murder - but the side characters are all filled with miserable secrets and only start to come alive when they step out of the shadows to reveal the truth. Eliza, obsessed with Audrey Hepburn and carrying the burden of her sister's dark fate, is far more than just Charlie's crush come first love, or deserves to be, and I felt sorry for his contemplative father and for Jeffrey's poor immigrant parents too. The dank atmosphere of an Australian summer and the suffocating closeness of a small town are very effective, though, and the ending is both stronger and less dramatic than I was expecting. Without Charlie, I think I could have been far more engrossed in this novel, but with him, 300 pages took three days. Hey ho. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Jun 18, 2019 |
This book was slow for me. Hard to pick back up when I’d put it down. There were a handful of events in the book that made the story compelling but the narrative dragged in between them. The side story about the MC’s best friend turned out to be the best part of the book. I think this book could have been edited down by 100 pages. ( )
  KarenMonsen | Dec 13, 2018 |
Brilliant!!! Best book I've read in ages. ( )
  tracymjoyce | Nov 16, 2017 |
I usually would not read fiction of this variety but my hand was forced by circumstances. Nonetheless, the critics’ reviews had me anticipating a novel which explores Australia’s deep-seated racist culture in such a way as to put Silvey in the same league as the American Harper Lee. Lee wrote about the racism she observed as a child and I was expecting something similarly honest from Silvey. Instead, a lazy combination of artist and critic that would have bewildered Oscar Wilde left me with a potentially good read, including some brilliant teenage dialogue, which otherwise lacks credibility. The lazy combination began with the critic who obviously didn’t read the entire book and instead simply regurgitated Silvey’s own references to Harper Lee and Mark Twain. This was off-putting as it smacks of the cultural cringe which sits comfortably with racism as a form of illogical behaviour so prevalent in Australian society. Silvey writes well and parts of the story had me racing ahead to find out what happened next, but it also left me confused. The first half of the book reads like a set-text for high school English (much like “To Kill a Mockingbird”) while the second-half suddenly jolts into racism, teenage sex, child sexual abuse, adultery, and the emptiness and boredom of living in a small Australian mining town. When viewed in isolation, this might be seen as a jolting technique to break away from the set-text model. Hopefully teachers will not be as lazy as the critic and will read the entire novel before setting the text for younger students. Yet endlessly painful anachronisms signify the author’s lack of historical knowledge and keep rearing their ugly heads throughout the story, leaving the reader begging for an honest word from Hemingway rather than another distraction from Silvey. To be sure, fiction is made-up, but researching the setting and the context properly adds credibility and ensures the reading of fiction is not an intellectual insult. Despite the accolades and the awards for “Jasper Jones”, I give Silvey a credit grade for a well-written piece of work that suffers from too many themes, too many anachronisms and a lack of credibility that ultimately stems from lazy research. ( )
1 vote madepercy | Nov 7, 2017 |
I loved this book. It got under my skin. The style was warm and candid. I enjoyed the observations of this small town and its people, its prejudices and small mindedness, through the eyes of young Chuck. Plenty of heart and compassion in this story of love, sadness and tragedy. ( )
  MSaftich | Nov 4, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
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Jasper Jones has come to my window.
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Book description
Charlie Bucktin has been warned about Jasper Jones: Corrigan’s no-good, half-Aboriginal scapegoat. Parents dread that he will lead their children astray, girls are secretly in love with him, and Charlie, at thirteen, regards him as an embodiment of the kind of manhood he can never seem to exhibit. So when Jasper Jones appears at his window in the middle of the night to ask for help, Charlie follows him, nervous but determined, into the bush outside Corrigan. It is there that he will discover the reason for Jasper’s visit; a secret that will weigh him down like a brick in his stomach, and shake his view of the world around him.
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In small-town Australia, teens Jasper and Charlie form an unlikely friendship when one asks the other to help him cover up a murder until they can prove who is responsible.

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