publisher: Allen and Unwin
date of publication: 2009
my bookreview: “Jasper Jones has come to my window. I don’t know why, but he has. Maybe he’s in trouble. Maybe he doesn’t have anywhere else to go. Either way, he’s just frightened the living shit out of me.”
One night, the rebel, outcast and solitary, Jasper Jones, known throughout the whole town for bad behaviour, comes to Charlie Bucktin’s window. An unpopular book nerd, Charlie feels the urge to know why Jasper Jones would come to get him, and decides to follow Jasper… But Jasper Jones has a terrible secret to share with our narrator. After this, Charlie Bucktin’s life will never be the same. Can Charlie’s willingnessto impress his elder be sufficient to face this discovery?
From the very first sentences, Craig Silvey sets an intense suspense. Once you’ve read these lines, there is no doubt you won’t be able to put the book down anymore.
Charlie Bucktin is only 13 years old when he reluctantly discovers the worst of life, the worst of humans. He looks a lot like Michel, the narrator in the French bestseller The Incorrigible Optimists Club by Jean-Michel Guenassia. They are both smart teenage boys, and keen on books. They will both learn, very early on, the best and the worst of growing-up: love and friendship of course, but also family issues, injustice, political and philosophical questions, etc. The hard reality of life.
The relationship between the narrator, Charlie Bucktin and Jasper Jones reminds me of Augustin Meaulnes and François Seurel, the narrator in Le Grand Meaulnes. (Funny how both books’ titles are the name of the secondary main character of the story.) Jasper and Le Grand Meaulnes both enter suddenly into the narrators’ life, turning it upside down. As with François Seurel, Charlie has a great admiration and tender feelings for his elder. Both of them are linked to their friend thanks to the secret they share. But Jasper Jones’ secret is much darker. Despite the little light moments when you can smile, laugh, and giggle a bit, Craig Silvey’s novel has a tragic plot. It also highlights racism and prejudices, human weaknesses of all sorts. It’s a story about growing-up and discovering things you would have preferred to ignore.
All of this is beautifully written. From the most puerile thought to the deepest one, Craig Silvey offers us very accurate descriptions of a teenager’s mind. The use of the abbreviations to reproduce a local accent, also contribute to make Jasper Jones sound so authentic. In a tour de force the author allows readers to identify themselves with the narrator and understand deeply each of his feelings and thoughts.
This novel gave me goosebumps of terror. But the most important for me, is how Charlie’s innocence, goodness, and smart thinking touched my heart. I know I will be haunted by this book a long time on after reading.
In a word, Jasper Jones‘ story is at first very mysterious, then scary, and even terrifying. It also offers some sweet and funny moments. But all along, it is deeply intelligent. It absolutely deserves all of its awards.
recommended age: from 16 yo