By: Craig Silvey
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date: April 5, 2011
YA, 320 pages
I was lucky enough to get to read this one last year and since it is releasing here tomorrow, I thought I would repost my review of it because it was wonderful and definitely worth a read!!
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.
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.