Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey is a book I have been intrigued by for quite a while. Not because of the blurb on the back or anything I’ve heard about it, but because of it’s cover. Yeah, yeah I know. “Never judge a book by it’s cover.” Well I did. But I judged it in a good way, not in a ‘that looks terrible’ kinda way. There is something about the cover of this book that I find alluring. I don’t whether it is the light hitting the boys face and creating shadows that don’t let you really see what he is feeling; or whether it is the sadness that seems to radiate from him. Whatever it is, I finally grabbed a copy and read it after all this time. And you know what I discovered, the book isn’t really about the boy named Jasper Jones.
One hot summer night in Australia in 1965, Jasper Jones knocks on the window of 13 year old Charlie Bucktin. Jasper has made a gruesome discovery and needs help. What Jasper shows Charlie is the scene of a crime that will no doubt haunt Charlie for the rest of his life. But he agrees to help Jasper anyway and keep a secret that should not be kept, and in doing so, help Jasper discover who committed this terrible crime. This book is Charlie’s coming of age story and I think that it is more about him than Jasper. But in a sense, Jasper is Charlie’s coming of age. If he had never knocked on Charlie’s window, then Charlie never would have ended up on the path he found himself on.
I really enjoyed reading this book, in particular the banter between Charlie and his best friend Jeffrey. My only negative comment on this, was that I had to constantly remind myself that they were two thirteen year old boys – they sounded older than that to me. I felt that Silvey was clever in setting the story right in the middle of a hot summer, as it reflected the tension that is not only apparent in the small town, but also across the world as the Vietnam war takes place. Overall, a beautifully written story with love, laughter, hate and mystery – everything a good book needs!
RATING – 7 out of 10. I felt a little let down by the ending – but that’s all I’ll mention about it as I don’t want to spoil it.
WHO SHOULD READ IT – Hmmm. I believe that most people will enjoy this book. I’ve only read one book by Tim Winton, but I was able to draw some similarities between the writing styles. So I guess if you like Tim Winton then you’ll like this book too.
WHO YOU’LL LOVE – It’s hard not to like Jeffrey Lu. The only Asian kid in town, he is the constant target of racial slurs from the other children, but lets it all roll off him like water off a duck’s back. As mentioned earlier, my favourite parts are the conversations between he and Charlie, specifically the Superman vs. Batman conversation.
FAVOURITE QUOTE – My favourite quote is actually a quote from another book that made it’s way into the story. It’s from Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain, and could have solved all the mystery surrounding the Superman vs. Batman argument.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”