Friday, March 23, 2012

Jasper Jones

Jasper Jones, Craig Silvey

The briefest, yet most informative description of this book is that it's an Australian To Kill a Mockingbird.  I studied To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) at high-school, as I suspect did many others.  I loved it at the time and when I returned to read it as a adult, I found that it still captured my imagination in the same way it did as a teenager.  The portrayal of racism in the southern USA in the 1930s, the idea of justice and how people treat one another is illustrative and confronting.  If imitation is the highest form of flattery, it is clear that Silvey is a big fan of both Harper Lee and Mark Twain, referring to both throughout.   

Jasper Jones is the story of 13 year old Charlie Bucktin in a small country town of WA in 1965.  Over one summer Charlie makes an awful discovery with the local problem boy of mixed-race, Jasper Jones, which forges a friendship between them.  At the same time, Charlie is falling in love for the first time, and is a steadfast friend to Jeffrey, a Vietnamese migrant, who is either ignored or harassed by all in the town.  Silvey has done an excellent job of portraying the mind & conversations of youth, and as such I suspect some older teenage boys would enjoy it.  

This is a great book, which addresses teenage angst, family issues and racial tensions in a very white Australia.  

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