By: Craig Silvey
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication Date: April 5, 1 2011
Review By: Amy Lignor
Review Date: April 2011
Charlie Bucktin is sweating. It is the extreme heat of summertime and he can barely breathe. But when a stone is thrown against his window, and he sees Jasper Jones outside, Charlie will soon regret leaving the comfort of his own room. Because, quite frankly, following Jasper Jones into the woods makes things a whole lot worse.
Charlie and Jasper live in a small town called Corrigan. Corrigan is known for two things. Most of the adults are employed by the mine, and the whole town centers itself on sports. Everyone in town vies to be the fastest and/or the quickest - that’s what gives them their status among all the rest.
Charlie is a “bookish” child. Not the quickest nor the fastest, Charlie entertains himself by being extremely good in school with his best friend Jeffrey Lu, who is the son of Vietnamese parents who gets teased constantly. But always, and I mean always, has a joke to tell and a smile on his face. Charlie also spends a great deal of time mooning over Eliza Wishart, who is another “brain” in the town of Corrigan who Charlie can’t help but fantasize over.
Jasper Jones is the “bad boy” in town. Some call him a thief, some a liar, and Jasper has achieved that angry reputation over time. With a deceased mother and a “no good” father, Jasper is used by the townspeople as a “blueprint” of how their own children should never end up. So for the cool guy with the bad rep to show up in the middle of the night at Charlie’s house is absolutely amazing. Charlie feels a thrill, whether he likes it or not, because he can’t believe that Jasper wants anything to do with him, let alone asking Charlie to come with him - into the night - to see something Charlie would have rather not seen.
As they walk through the sweltering darkness, they stop near the house of Mad Jack Lionel. This is a man who is surrounded by the gossip and rumors of how he brought about the death of a young woman long ago. Kids in Corrigan raise themselves up the “cool” ladder by retrieving things from Mad Jack’s house; like stealing a peach off the tree that sits right beside Mad Jack’s broken-down, frightening-looking cottage. Mad Jack never goes outside anymore - it’s like he’s a monstrous ghost living on the outskirts of town. But Jasper Jones has seen the “monster” and he needs to find out - with Charlie’s help - if he has anything to do with the horror that’s about to be unveiled to Charlie.
Not only does this author do an amazing job of using literary classics such as The Catcher in the Rye, and To Kill a Mockingbird as elements for his story, the novel delves into the subjects of injustice, racism, and the power of young love. Jasper Jones is a complex story of passion, desire, and horror mixed together - a perfect recipe for the ever-growing Young Adult world. This book has won the Australian Indie Book of the Year award.
Quill Says: An incredible read by a debut author who the world is, most definitely, going to hear a lot more from in the future.