…if it were anyone else, I would choose to step back and turn away right now. I would never bow my head and push through that wattle, and its golden orbs would never shake loose and settle in my hair like confetti. I would never grab at its rough trunk to save me from tripping. I would never part its locks of foliage. And I would never lift my head to see this neat clearing of land. I would never look past Jasper Jones to reveal his secret.
But I don’t turn back. I stay. I follow Jasper Jones.
And I see it.
And everything changes.
When he is woken in the middle of a hot summer’s night, Charlie Bucktin is excited to find that Jasper Jones needs his help. Charlie is bookish and unpopular – and Jasper Jones is the town’s rebellious outcast. What could Jasper need him for? But when Charlie follows Jasper across town and out into a clearing in the bush, he doesn’t know that his life is about to changed forever. What Jasper shows him will shake him from his childhood and, in the weeks that follow everything that Charlie thinks he has known starts to change. As he struggles with the terrible secret that he carries, the disintegration of his tight knit family, the racism directed at his friend Jeffrey and first love, Charlie seeks to find truth and peace.
Jasper Jones is a brilliant novel which manages to blend terrible, tragic events with touches of romance, plenty of humour and characters who are easy to like. Set in a (fictional) small mining town in country WA, against a backdrop of true events of the 1960s including the Vietnam War, the hanging of the ‘Nedlands Monster’, the disappearance of the Beaumont children and Doug Walters test cricket debut, the author manages to create a believable setting for his tale, and to draw the reader in to the lives of Charlie and his friends.
This is a story which draws the reader in and, when it is over, leaves them wanting more. These are hard characters to have to leave behind.
Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey
Allen & Unwin, 2009
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