Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey


"Set in an Australian mining town in the 1960's, it's the story of 13 year old Charlie Bucktin, and the unlikely friendship he develops with the town's ne'er-do-well, the enigmatic Jasper Jones."

There have been many books I have thought of as 5 star books for various reasons...they were fun to read, they were entertaining, the descriptions were vivid and they played like a movie in my head. And then there are those magical books that come along only ever once in awhile that make you realize you need a 6 star rating system because they just shine above and beyond.

That's Jasper Jones.

The story is told by Charlie, who gets a surprise visit from Jasper Jones one night and becomes involved in a terrible mystery that affects the whole town they live in. It's also Charlie's coming of age story, his journey from the relative safety of childhood to realizing the world isn't always a pretty place. Cruelty isn't just confined to the schoolyard, it happens out there in the real world too.

Silvey is a master of dialogue, the voices of Charlie and Jasper and Jeffrey Lu (Charlie's best friend and all around AWESOME, I ADORED him) are SO incredibly vivid. Each has a distinct personality and sense of humor (and oh my, there were some real laugh out loud moments in this book.) I felt like I KNEW these guys and I genuinely cared for each one. But this was so much more than a telling of what was said or what was done. We get to hear that voice in Charlie's head...the one that wonders why and asks the big questions and then lets us know what he thinks. And we get to nod our heads and say, "Yes, yes Charlie, that's EXACTLY how it is." His observations on the world we live in are spot on.

Not to mention his opinion on Batman, which is nothing short of brilliant.

Jasper Jones is, quite simply, beautifully written. It is the kind of book you feel grateful for after closing its pages. And a little sad when it's over because you hate to say goodbye.

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