Carrie's Reviews > Jasper Jones

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
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's review
Jul 25, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: read-again
Read from July 27 to 29, 2014

JULY 2014

I re-read this book this summer and, interestingly enough, had exactly the same reaction this time around. I remembered only the very basic facts of the story - didn't remember who killed Laura, didn't remember how Mad Jack Lionel was involved, didn't remember what happened to Jasper. It was almost like reading it again for the first time. And again I was watching page numbers, thinking how intellectual this book was, wondering which students I would recommend it to, puzzling over the events of the cricket matches. And ultimately LOVING the heck out of this book. Realizing how attached I had grown to each of the characters and invested I had grown in their futures. And realizing I would like to re-read this AGAIN in a few years!

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JULY 2012

“Jasper Jones” by Craig Silvey is really not about the character Jasper Jones; it really tells about Charlie Bucktin, a shy, adolescent bookworm who is forced to grow up and confront some harsh realities one hot 1960′s summer. “Thisiswhathappened…” Charlie was innocently reading one night when someone rapped on his window. This someone happened to be the town pariah, Jasper Jones. Jasper insisted that he needed Charlie’s help… now! So, desperate to impress the infamous Jasper Jones, Charlie snuck out and followed Jasper into the bush. What Jasper led Charlie to was the hanging body of a local girl, Laura Wishart… a girl who also happened to be the sister of Charlie’s crush. Jasper is certain Laura’s death will be blamed on him (since every bad thing that happens in town is blamed on him), so he solicits Charlie’s help in “hiding” the body and searching for the real killer. However, as the days and weeks stretch on, Charlie finds it harder and harder to hold this dark secret in. And as he witnesses racism, bullying, infidelity, child abuse, and the effects of war, he grows even more disillusioned and doubtful about the innate goodness of people. But Charlie can’t rest, can’t find peace, until he has kept his promise to Jasper and discovered the who and, maybe more importantly, the why of Laura’s demise.

This book has left me perplexed. I’m genuinely having a hard time discerning how I feel about “Jasper Jones.” Throughout the book, I kept looking at the page numbers, figuring how much I had left, grudgingly turning page after page. This was NOT a quick read. It was not fast-paced. It’s a “thinking man’s book.” I kept asking myself, which of my students would ever read this? I couldn’t come up with any. Sure, I laughed on several occasions (sometimes out loud) and skimmed through the few tense sections, but I never ever, not once, had a hard time putting this book down. But, when I got to the last word of the last sentence on the last page, I was disappointed. I wanted more. I HAD TO know what happened to Charlie and Eliza and Jasper and Mad Jack Lionel and Jefferey. I was NOT glad to see the book end. And I found myself inexplicably moved by the story… I was touched by the characters’ experiences, learned from their hardships, felt like I might be a better person for having read this book. I just don’t get how that can be because I agonized over almost every page. So, how can I say I liked the book? And I have to say I liked the book if I’m being completely, utterly, and totally honest. I did. I liked it. I can see why it was given an award. I don’t know… it’s a mystery to me!

One more thing I think I should mention about this book is that, while it isn’t a quick read, it’s not an easy read either. This is the first book by an Australian author that has “sounded” Australian. The characters say “Oiright” (instead of alright) and “but” (instead of though) and “Yar” (instead of yeah). Additionally, everyone in this town apparently plays cricket, a sport I know less than nothing about. So, the lengthy play-by-play descriptions of cricket matches (?) left me wholly baffled. If nothing else, this book provides ample examples of how to use context clues and related knowledge to make sense of a text.

Now the hard part… would I recommend this book? Woofah! That’s a tough one. Yes, for adults who like young adult fiction, absolutely! Yes, for students who like an intellectual read. No, for the vast majority of my students who want a fast-paced, grab you from the get-go, easy read… absolutely not! Will I put it on my bookshelf at school? Yep. What can I say… it made me think; it speaks some hard truths; it says things that can’t be ignored. Yes, I’d put it on my bookshelf. How can I not?
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