My book club has had this novel in our sights for a while. We read Rhubarb and all enjoyed it. Craig Silvey not only tells a good story, but he puts words together in an interesting manner.
Here’s the blurb …
Late on a hot summer night in the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress.
Jasper takes him through town and to his secret glade in the bush, and it’s here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper’s horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother; falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu.
And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.
This novel has a real sense of place. A small Western Australian town in the 1960s – with all that that implies; racism, sexism, etc. You can almost feel the heat coming off the page.
The characters are beautifully written; Charlie trying to do the right thing, but hopelessly out of his depth; Jasper Jones, self-reliant he has dealt with the town’s racism for ever, if anything ever goes wrong he is suspected; Jeffery witty and resilient; and Eliza who seems so knowing and self-possessed.
There is an undercurrent of menace throughout this novel with occasional outbursts of violence. Corrigan is a town seething in it’s own juices.
This is a fabulous novel and I look forward to the next Craig Silvey novel.
Some more reviews …