Jasper Jones has been described as Australia’s To Kill A Mockingbird. This description alone made me pick up this novel. Not to mention the rave reviews or the fact that it has been made into a movie (a pretty good guarantee the book is at least great even if the movie isn’t). Jasper Jones is told from the perspective of Charlie, a thirteen year old bookish boy growing up in country Australia in 1969. Charlie is woken late one night by the infamous Jasper Jones who whisks him away to discover and then cover up a horrendous secret. As the summer wears on the consequences of this secret hit their small town building to the climax of the novel. All the while Charlie has to navigate the throes of teenage life, clashing with his parents, experiencing young, naive love and, of course, playing cricket with his best made Jeffrey.
This is a novel deserving of the hype. Silvey has created some memorable characters, Jeffrey an absolute highlight and a fast-paced plot that has you racing to the climax. All of this is intertwined with the mindful and captivating prose of a young Charlie struggling to make sense of life and all it’s mysteries. Despite the intense situation Charlie finds himself in there is much the reader can relate to in Charlie’s life. Learning that your parents aren’t always who you imagine them to be and that they can let you down, facing up to bullies and discrimination and navigating the treacherous waters that is your first love are all highlights that we experience with Charlie.
The prose of Silvey is beautiful, haunting and contemplative, which is what makes it such a timeless favourite. A highlight for me was a discussion of superheroes that starts off as banter between Charlie and the affable Jeffrey but builds to an important lesson at the crux of the novel. This passage will stay with me even as I have finished the story. I give Jasper Jones four cricket bats, ever important growing up in Australia. In fact now I just can’t wait to experience the film adaptation that has been recently released. Do give this novel a read as it deserved every accolade.