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Black Swan Green

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  26,244 Ratings  ·  2,543 Reviews
Jason Taylor is 13, doomed to be growing up in the most boring family in the deadest village in the dullest county in the most tedious nation on earth. This book follows 13 months in his life as he negotiates the pitfalls of school and home and contends with bullies, girls and politics.
Paperback, 371 pages
Published April 2nd 2007 by Sceptre (first published 2006)
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Christina De la Garza Hi, it depends on their reading level. If they read on grade level, I think that it would be fine. I teach in an urban school where many students read…moreHi, it depends on their reading level. If they read on grade level, I think that it would be fine. I teach in an urban school where many students read far behind grade level. I would probably give this to my higher students and provide similar, more accessible coming-of-age stories to my lower readers. If you are not British (I am American), they may have some trouble with the colloquialisms, but good readers can decipher those by using context. Highly recommended. There is much to talk about in this book. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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s.penkevich
Oct 31, 2012 s.penkevich rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The kid in you
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Growing up is hard to do
Shelves: coming-of-age
'The world unmakes stuff faster than people can make it.'

Month by month our lives spiral forth into the future, with each moment shaping who we are and who we will become. It is no wonder that the pivotal years of adolescence, the stage of development classified by Erik Erikson as the Identity vs. Role Confusion stage, is fertile land for novels (if the nutrients of such land has been dried up from overuse of such topics is up for debate). Mitchell’s Black Swan Green examines this tumultuous per
...more
Jenn(ifer)
I’m about to start gushing over this book now, so look out. I may end up stammering my way through this review, but if I do, just consider it a tribute to Jason Taylor.

So Black Swan Green. This is the first David Mitchell book I’ve read but I assure you, it will not be the last. I loved everything about this book. I RELATED to everything about this book. True, I have no idea what it’s like to be a 13 year old British boy growing up in the 80’s, yet there is something so universal about this char
...more
Greg
Oct 31, 2012 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I think it was the summer between eighth and ninth grades that I had an absolutely hellish summer camp experience.* For whatever reason I got branded as the person to pick on and just about everything that I did was turned into a series of 'jokes' at my expense.

I haven't thought of this experience in quite sometime, it's sort of one of those things that I just don't dwell on, but it was one of those times that seriously fucked me up. Some of the taunting that Jason Taylor goes through in this b
...more
Megha
Jul 07, 2012 Megha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews

Just as I opened the cover of the book, I was hit by a barrage of praise for the book comments. May be I should have stopped right there. But I didn't. Hence this review.

When I watch a Hollywood movie or a TV show involving American schools, I see schoolkids overly concerned with social status and pecking order. There are these popular and cool kids, then there are nerds and other such stereotypes. They have to constantly worry about whose parties they get invited to, who they are seen talking t
...more
Agnieszka
May 05, 2014 Agnieszka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who still remembers own 13 year-old self

I have failed to understand why this novel is sometimes disregarded even by Mitchell’s admirers. Because Mitchell accustomed us with his earlier works to something more bizarre and flamboyant ? Because Black Swan Green is so … ordinary ?

Adolescence is a real torture , especially for sensitive , smart but morbidly lacking of self-confidence one . And so Jason is . Thirteen-year-old from some jerkwater town , struggling with own deficiencies and fears . In some respects Jason has really rough ti
...more
Richard Derus
Apr 30, 2013 Richard Derus rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pearl-ruled
Rating: 1.5* of five (p66)

Strike one: Teenaged protagonist.

Strike two, and ball one of strike three: Majgicqk. Or something like it.

Strike three: David Mitchell's writing reminds me of all the MFA program writing I've ever read.

I thought The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and Cloud Atlas were disorganized, and NO I did NOT misunderstand the fractured POV he used, I thought he did a poor job of executing it, and I found the preciosity of his phrasemaking in each of the three books I've either
...more
Jessica
Sep 26, 2007 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: little british boys
Shelves: leetle-boys
I remember describing this book to a coworker:

Me: "It's about this little stuttering English kid who lives out in some little village during the Thatcher era, and sort of like, his coming of age kind of experiences?"

Coworker: "Oh God, that sounds awful."

Me: "No! I mean, I know it sounds awful the way I just explained it, but the book's actually really, really great!"

Two days later....

Me: (privately, to self) "Oh, God, this is awful."

I don't know what happened! This book started out really amazin
...more
Ian Vinogradus
A Spelling Test

I kept this book on the shelf for a few years, before thinking I was ready to read it.

I didn't want to break the spell of the first two David Mitchell books that I had read (I didn't really like Cloud Atlas) and I was a bit apprehensive about the subject matter of a young teenage boy.

Ultimately, it was very much a book of two halves for me.

Teenage Mates Land

The first half captured male teenagerdom in the period in the 60's and 70's (when I grew up) and the 80's (when Jason grew
...more
Shovelmonkey1
Feb 25, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who was a kid in the 1980's
Shelves: read-in-2010
Black Swan Green surfed out of David Mitchell after the literary ocean had swept up Cloud Atlas and smashed it repeatedly against the shore marked "greatness", where it burst open and loads of critical acclaim and literary awards came gushing out. I read Cloud Atlas first and managed to protect myself against the gushing geyser of praise by having a suitably large umbrella. Sadly my umbrella is mostly made of a thin but impermeable layer of cynicism so I didn't have as many lovely things to say ...more
Michael
Oct 15, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This warm and big-hearted coming-of-age tale of a 13-year old boy, Jason Taylor, set in rural south central England in the early 80’s has plenty of charm. It’s sweet, but not sappy. Its magic lies in the capturing of innocence of that age at that time and place, from the electricity of a first kiss and sickness from a first cigarette to the pull of dancing to the Talking Heads and of jingoistic feelings inspired by Maggie Thatcher’s war for the Falkland Islands. The dark side of things in this s ...more
Madeleine
In every review of "Black Swan Green" I've read, the reviewer made sure to include some remark like "This isn't nearly as ambitious as 'Cloud Atlas'" or "I was expecting this to be more like 'Cloud Atlas' and, like, it totally wasn't." And that's really not fair to BSG because the two books are delightful and beautiful in their own ways for different reasons.

I had no idea what to expect from this book. I picked it up because I bloody love David Mitchell (and, yes, "Cloud Atlas," which I do adore
...more
Rohisa
Jul 22, 2016 Rohisa marked it as color-me-aroused  ·  review of another edition
I am officially a David Mitchell Fan Girl! Like "screaming-howling-shrieking-frenzied" Fan Girl. Even if he'll write product description on the package of consumer goods, I'll pay to read it.
JSou
Jan 12, 2010 JSou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Why is it that bad memories from adolescence never seem to fade away? I mean really, it's been a pretty long time since I was in junior high, yet there's certain times that those memories come flooding back to the point where it feels like all those events just happened yesterday. Being a shy, bookish type girl did not go over well in the junior high social scene, believe me. I remember one day getting off the bus after school, enduring more than the usual amount of name calling and laughing, wh ...more
Aubrey
Sep 16, 2014 Aubrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a children's book written for the adult mind. All of the horrors and torments of the regular youth, the fighting parents, the schoolyard bullies, the secrets, the shame, are written in such a way that memories of your own childhood will be conjured up, emotions fresh as if it were yesterday. Throughout the story, the main character has insights that are a mix of childhood imagination and innate wisdom, as he goes through the motions of the daily life and all of its consequences. It is a ...more
Lynne King
This is a beautifully written book but I'm going to make a contradictory statement here - it is not for me.

Jason Taylor is a delightful boy, for most of the time that is, but my attention began to wander after a couple of chapters. The book did not fulfil my expectations. A quick skim through the book and then that was the end of that.

A shame really as it held such promise initially. Perhaps I will try and reread it at some later stage in my life.
Cecily
There is little narrative drive, but Mitchell is pretty much my age and this is heavily autobiographical, so I enjoyed being transported to a fairly accurate version of a world I remember. I could imagine knowing someone like Jason, maybe even being him some of the time.

The narration by a stuttering 13 year old boy is slightly reminiscent of Mark Haddon's Curious Incident, but not as convincing or interesting.

It mentions specific 70s brands and products too deliberately - as if he's trying to
...more
GeorgeD
Jul 23, 2016 GeorgeD rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Ένας χρόνος από τη ζωή ενός δεκατριάχρονου σε μια μικρή κωμόπολη της Αγγλίας στις αρχές της δεκαετίας του '80.
Ο Mitchell τα χώρεσε όλα (με αξιοθαύμαστη άνεση και μεγάλη -κατ' εμέ- επιτυχία): η Αγγλία της Θάτσερ και ο αντίκτυπος σε κοινωνικό, οικογενειακό και προσωπικό επίπεδο, πόλεμος στα Φόκλαντς και αντίκτυπος στην αγγλική κοινωνία, κοινωνικές προκαταλήψεις (βλ. μικροαστισμός) και όλα αυτά μέσα από την καθημερινότητα του δεκατριάχρονου, ο οποίος δεν ταιριάζει και τόσο με τα "πρότυπα" των συνο
...more
Tanuj Solanki
Dec 03, 2013 Tanuj Solanki rated it it was amazing
1) A novel written from the perspective, or in the voice, of an adolescent boy is nothing new.

2) A novel concentrating on the development of character through formative experiences, some of which are representative of the time he or she lives in, is nothing new. It is called a Bildungsroman.

3) A novel that highlights, or hints at, the fragility of family, or the frailty of marriage, is nothing new.

Mitchell trods on these, and other, well-beaten paths, striving all the time to deliver us somethi
...more
Whitaker
David Mitchell is well on his way to becoming one of my favourite contemporary writers. He has an amazing ability to ventriloquise, to channel characters through his writing. Here, in this mash-up of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he seems to be channeling his younger self, self-conscious British teenage speak warring with the compressed imagery of the developing poet:

The lake in the woods was epic. Tiny bubbles were trapped in the ice like i
...more
Steve
Nov 09, 2010 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can’t wait to read more by this guy. It’s clear how Mitchell has such devoted fans. The only word of advice I would give to anyone before reading this tremendous coming of age story is to choose not to be bothered about whether a 13-year-old boy could, in real life, be such a polished and insightful writer. Just enjoy the fact that Mitchell is. He’s ace, as young Jason might say!
Miina
Apr 09, 2008 Miina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my husband and anyone with a young teen
I think I am developing a serious author crush on David Mitchell. I am a 31 year old married woman and yet David (we're on a first name basis now because I've read two of his books, see) creates the 13 year old character of Jason Taylor in such a manner that Jason becomes EveryKid to me. I feel his adolescent pain, fictional construct though it may be, because I felt that kind of pain when I was a pre-teen. Once again, David brilliantly captures the spirit of his protagonist and the time through ...more
Eh?Eh!
Aug 27, 2012 Eh?Eh! rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Mitchell has no idea of how an American sounds like.
Annoying, the way eccentric characters are twirled into the story and twirled right back out.

I guess those are my only two reservations about this book, a coming-of-age story that feels spot on. Books where I can see myself, that vibrate with shared experience or shadows of familiarity, those are the ones that can slice to the deepest quick. This isn't one of them, since I wasn't a smart boy who was 13 in 1982 in a small village in Englan
...more
Maxwell
Jun 17, 2015 Maxwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it, 2015
3.5 stars

Black Swan Green chronicles a year in the life of Jason Taylor. He lives in a small town, Black Swan Green, in Gloucestershire. He's thirteen. Life pretty much sucks. He has a stammer, one dorky friend, his parents are unhappy, and his older sister is moving away to college. But in all that, Jason sees life in a very different way than most people. He is a poet; a secret poet, since being a thirteen-year-old poet in 1980's England definitely wouldn't be ace. As we follow Jason through t
...more
Jonathan

David Mitchell must have the aim of writing something differently each time. I've heard that China Miéville's aim is like that too...

Either way it's very nice to see an author who tries to write in multiple genres rather than pigeon-holing himself as a fantasy, sci-fi or mystery writer.

I must admit that the three star rating is because the subject matter is not my preferred. I'm into the epic (a phrase used in this book no less), the grand ideas that extend beyond a novel that envelop all huma
...more
·Karen·
Dec 18, 2009 ·Karen· rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brits
David Mitchell tries to do something very ambitious in this novel. He writes about the life of a thirteen year old as if it were the thirteen year old writing, not some slightly older version of that person who can look back with wisdom and smile gently at his callow thirteen year old self. The narrator here is Jason, both a poet and a stammerer, and typically of thirteen year olds, liable to veer wildly between the acute and the cute, between great perception and great naivety, between longing ...more
Jasmina Karović
Wow, this guy is a wizard when it comes to words and stories. Wow.
Darwin8u
Aug 28, 2012 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, aere-perennius
Reading Mitchell for me is like experiencing J.D. Salinger again in high school or Don Delillo or Murakami in college. There are certain books you feel the author has almost hand-feed you emotionally and intellectually. This might only be objectively a 4.5 star book, but bugger objectivity, I loved it.
Jonathan Peto
May 28, 2016 Jonathan Peto rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
To hell with David Mitchell. A personal appeal from the author may get me to nudge my rating to four stars, because this is worth more than three, but he’ll need to prepare ahead of time. This novel’s story is pretty straightforward, but if you’ve read anything else by Mitchell, you know he’s capable of intricate meta-showmanship, the literary equivalent of a Prince performance when Prince chose to emphasize theatrics, may he RIP. Stuff a dossier full of scribbled notes, David, shove some marvel ...more
Susan
Dec 15, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written book about Jason, a funny, resourceful, smart and intelligent thirteen year old, who faces his many problems and challenges.....a stammer, bullying, parents at war with each other......as well as all the usual difficulties of being a teenager, with bravery and honesty.
I feel that author David Mitchell gives a totally believable insight into how a boy of thirteen is affected by the pressures of growing up, and of trying to fit in and be accepted by his peers, of stru
...more
Nick
Well this novel certainly put the dung in bildungsroman.
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Around the World ...: Discussion for Black Swan Green 7 58 Apr 24, 2015 05:52PM  
Altruistic Acts in BSG 2 47 May 16, 2013 12:46PM  
The film 'This is England' (Shane Meadows, 2006) makes a nice companion piece to this book. 10 86 Sep 08, 2012 01:54PM  
Altruistic Acts in BSG 1 35 Apr 30, 2012 06:50PM  
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David Mitchell was born in Southport, Merseyside, in England, raised in Malvern, Worcestershire, and educated at the University of Kent, studying for a degree in English and American Literature followed by an M.A. in Comparative Literature. He lived for a year in Sicily, then moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where he taught English to technical students for eight years, before returning to England. Afte ...more
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“If you show someone something you've written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin, and say, ‘When you’re ready’.” 322 likes
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