Barbara's Reviews > Jasper Jones

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
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Feb 12, 12

bookshelves: bullies, death, mysteries, ncbla, writing, word-lovers
Read on February 12, 2012

** spoiler alert ** In so many ways, this book remind me of To Kill a Mockingbird with its themes of prejudice and the assumptions we often make about others. The book even has several spooky passages that bring that earlier book to mind. Additionally, Charlie Bucktin, the thirteen-year-old narrator sees himself as a sort of small-town Australian Atticus Finch, weighing the pros and cons of his actions. When Jasper Jones, half white, half Aborigine, comes to his window one night, Charlie's life is changed forever. Seeing the body of Laura Wishart, the daughter of one of Corrigan's leading citizens, hanging from a tree shocks Charlie, and in a misguided attempt to buy some time for Jasper while they smoke out the killer, Charlie helps move the body into the water. At first as I considered their actions, I thought that Jasper could have found some way to prove his innocence, but I quickly realized that he was often the town scapegoat, leaving him little to do but flee the town for somewhere else. The mystery itself wasn't really that hard to solve or even that compelling since the author provides hints about luck and fate reminiscent of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. But what was particularly intriguing to me was Charlie's coming of age and his loss of innocence. Not only does he have a crush on the dead girl's sister Eliza, but he faces several conflicts with his mother who seems bent on destroying the family. As Charlie comes to terms with his own family's problems, he also watches his best friend, Jeffrey Lu, deal with prejudice toward Vietnamese immigrants both on and off the cricket field. He himself must handle the constant ridicule he takes from the school bullies for being an avid reader and writer--he borrows books from his father's extensive library--and for using vocabulary words deemed inapropriate by his peers, earning him punches when he uses them. The small-mindedness of those around him make Charlie's reluctant acts of bravery particularly impressive and add to the pleasures of reading this book. While there are a couple of holes and some predictability, the author vividly captures the paranoia and what sometimes passes for justice in a small town.
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