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Jasper Jones

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Late on a hot summer night in 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 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.

397 pages, Paperback

First published March 31, 2009

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About the author

Craig Silvey

13 books980 followers
Craig Silvey is an author and screenwriter from Fremantle, Western Australia.

His critically acclaimed debut novel, Rhubarb, was published in 2004. His bestselling second novel, Jasper Jones, was released in 2009 and is considered a modern Australian classic. Published in over a dozen territories, Jasper Jones has won plaudits in three continents, including an International Dublin Literary Award shortlisting, a Michael J. Printz Award Honor, and a Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlisting. Jasper Jones was the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year for 2010.

His third novel, Honeybee, published in 2020, is an award-winning bestseller. Honeybee was the 2020 Dymocks Book Of The Year, won the Indie Book Award for Best Fiction, and was shortlisted for both the Literary Fiction Book of the Year at the 2021 ABIA Awards and the Adult Fiction Book of the Year at the ABA Booksellers’ Choice Awards. In 2022, Honeybee was voted Number 1 in the Better Reading Top 100.

Runt is his first novel for Younger Readers.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,187 reviews
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews964 followers
March 9, 2012
This review is so overdue it’s.. not even funny anymore.

Actually, it wasn’t funny to begin with so there goes my witty opening. Things can only go down from here, really. I warn you.

If I was a liar, I’d say I had left this review space to lie fallow so long because I was taking my time to process and analyse the novel, to think Deep and Meaningful Thoughts, and draft a serious and critical review.

But the honest truth is (a) I can procrastinate like nobody’s business and, (b) I actually found the prospect of writing this review extremely daunting. I happen to be one of those people who sees a bar set high not as a challenge, but an excuse to slink away and pretend I was never there. “Nothing to see here people, just wimping out…”

And does Craig Silvey ever set the bar high.


There’s a precarious point between following the rules for writing and breaking the rules for writing where occasionally something quite brilliant is created. (I started trying to make a venn diagram to illustrate that point, then realised I was just avoiding this review again.) And overall, with a few unsteady moments, I think that Jasper Jones hits that mark.

Of all those things I (and others, I suspect) was taught to never do while writing, Silvey has used them to craft something quite special, a book that is less words on paper and more a profoundly moving experience.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t feel this way immediately.

From the first page, I thought the writing was beautiful, arresting. But throughout the first couple of chapters (and they’re long chapters) I was conscious of a feeling that I wanted to hop outside of myself, get behind my own brain, and push - like rolling a stone up a hill. I was aware that what I was reading was good, even great, and that I was going to be rewarded in some way. But despite Charlie and Jasper's grim discovery at the book’s opening, there was also something arduous about it, the way book meanders through its set up. And call me un-Australian (haha) but I’m afraid all that cricket talk went straight to the keeper and it was a bit of a slog for me to get through.

I realise that’s not a very auspicious way to begin a book. But in hindsight, I don’t think I would change a thing. I think that it was necessary to create the layers of tension and subtext and relationships, to create the drowsy, yet unsettling atmosphere that make Jasper Jones what it is. Which is unapologetic and brilliant.

In so many ways, this is a story about growing up versus becoming an adult. Charlie, a bookish teen, and Jasper, marginalised due to his indigenous heritage, are both outcasts that must grow up in a way that some of the adult characters never have. Both are compelled to make life-altering choices amid the deceptive quiet of life in a country town.

Silvey captures small town Australia so perfectly, even more so the social and political climate of the time. This isn’t always easy to read. After all, this was a time period when the effects and attitudes of the White Australia Policy and assimilation were still very much imprinted on the consciousness of a nation – and the prejudice, intolerance and outright cruelty that Aboriginal Australians and migrants were subjected to is disquieting. It’s a brave move, choosing not to paint 1960s Australia simply in strokes of fond nostalgia, but to reveal the shades of racism and narrow-mindedness that bred malice and ostracism. It’s unflinchingly honest, and thereby highlights the very real courage of its young protagonists, who forge a bond in the face of a community that fears what it does not know.

Jasper Jones is a book that creeps into your stomach and stretches your nerves. There’s a growing sense of unease seeping through the pages that belies the somewhat somnolent manner in which the story unfolds. And as the true nature of the Corrigan’s secrets – Laura’s, Jasper’s, Eliza’s, Mad Jack Lionel’s – begin to emerge, it’s hard not to feel anxious and sick and entirely absorbed in this complex, grey story.

Silvey weaves his backdrop of Corrigan with richly realised characters, from Charlie’s sharp and unhappy mother, to his effusive friend Jeffrey, but it was Jasper that truly owns my heart. Accepted nowhere but on the football field, his was the story that touched me the most, his rough words of insight that struck me with their truth, the glimpses of his fear through his bravado that were heart-rending. He does not tell this story, but it’s his presence that makes it what it is.

I feel like I say this a lot in reviews, as some kind of caveat, but I’m going to say it yet again: this book won’t be for everyone. The writing, the subject matter, and the technical aspects (which the lovely Shirley does a far better job of discussing) may not be equally accessible to all readers. And I’ll be interested to see whether the Printz nomination garners this book a broader, crossover audience, as in Australia (as far as I’m aware) it’s generally marketed towards adults. But there’s just something beautifully unique about this book, the way it doesn’t bend to conventional rules, a very Australian essence distilled and concentrated so accurately.

And the final, chilling scenes that wrap up this the story are so fitting and lingering that I think the closing image is possibly indelibly stamped on my brain. Long after finishing this book I was still wrapped up in it, the questions it presented, the threads that lay ambiguously untied.

The last star of my rating is for that ending alone. Powerful and haunting.

I just finished this on the tram this morning. Speechless.

Intercontinental mass readalong of Jasper Jones

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Profile Image for Jo.
268 reviews943 followers
May 12, 2020
I guess when you finish a book that you absolutely loved and you sit down, notebook fill of coherent notes, to start writing a review it’s easy to start using clichés. I find this is especially true when it comes to those Australian authors.
You’ve heard it before, haven’t you?
Is there something in the water Down Under?
Well, I don’t think there is. Nope, not at all. You don’t see me reverting to those tired and ridiculous clichés, do you?
My suggestion as to why these Aussie authors are so ridiculously good? There’s something in the shrimps that they put on all those barbies.

In all seriousness though, this book is good. Great. Cracking. Brilliant. All the superlatives you can think of. I don’t really want to talk too much about the plot because this book is a mystery, both in plot and character. But right from the beginning, so full of suspense and unease, to the breathless "thisiswhathappened" ending, I was completely captivated.

The characters are brilliant, especially Jasper Jones although I so desperately wanted more of him. Although saying that, I’m a bit torn in this aspect because I adored him when he was on the page and I loved the interactions between him and Charlie... but I loved the mystery and intrigue around the character even more. Misunderstood and with a heart of pure gold; Jasper Jones is the kind of boy who you’d want to go on adventures with. Sure you’d come back from those adventures slightly sunburnt and dishevelled with random insects in your hair, scraped knees and faced with the inevitable grounding from your parents but it would always be with it. Simply put, I loved him and my heart ached for him.
Also, I had lots and lots of time for Eliza. Such a little sweetheart.

I also loved how multi-faceted this book was. If I told you just what the basic plot of this story was (which I’m not going to) I would probably be missing about 75% of what this book actually covered. History, racism, Australian culture, prejudice, the subtle interactions between families, the damage of secrets and rumours and cricket (yeah, I could have probably have done without the cricket aspect of things. Cricket, to me, is a game we were forced to play in PE at high school when it was too sunny for bench ball.) Mr Silvey perfectly balances all of these issues without being overly clunky and preachy.

A little bit unrelated and possibly a little thematic spoilery, I often wonder how the context in which you read a book effects how you feel about it. It was a complete coincidence that I read this book the weekend when this had been in the news once more. I had no idea what this book was about before I picked it up so it was quite daunting to read a book that, although set in the 60s, felt so current. It’s difficult to put into words how that whole story affected and still continues to affect the British public so it was strange to read this book with that very much in my mind (they also have a brief mention in this book). I know I would have found Jasper Jones moving if I had read it a few months ago but would it have affected as much as it did? I don’t know but it certainly left an impression on me and proved to be a great deal more topical than I thought it was going to be.

One of my favourite things about Australian YA books is the sense of place that the authors create and Jasper Jones is no exception. It takes a lot to be transported from a clammy, rainy town in Greater Manchester to the bone dry, dusty, desolate Western Australian town but for the few hours it took me to read this book, I honestly was.

The scene, the story, the writing and the characters combined with the wonderfully cinematic and satisfactory ending (where all those story threads that you so desperately want to have been tied up into a lovely bow are still dancing in the Australian breeze and you wouldn’t want it any other way) this book was glorious and definitely not a book that has been puffed up by the hype.

At the end of the day, this book was what would happen if you took a copy of Jellicoe Road and Brown Skin Blue and smushed them together making loud kissing noises. I’m not sure if you’re going to get a higher recommendation than that from me.
Profile Image for İntellecta.
198 reviews1,531 followers
June 25, 2021
A time in which racism as well as social exclusion are high.
"Jasper Jones" ist a story with complex strands and aspects, each one of which can fill a novel, all of which seem to overwhelm the book, but sometimes they are torn to the brink of inspiration, but do not come to one Solution.
However, I wonder whether I can view this book as a pure youth book. Because background knowledge is complex.
The writing style is light and easy. The dialogues partly funny, but also bitter.
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,397 reviews801 followers
October 16, 2017
At the end of this book, the author thanked, among others, librarians and booksellers who never get the credit they deserve for supporting books. I would like to thank the librarians of the Goodreads Aussie Readers group for their inventive reading challenges which send readers to book lists and genres we might never have discovered. That was how I found Jasper Jones. Thank you.!

I saw it was an award-winner, but somehow I didn’t expect it to appeal to me. I was wrong. It really is like hearing Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye– if Holden were a 13-year old Aussie asked to participate in a dark undertaking.

Jasper is not the main character, Charles is, but Jasper is a football hero with a mystique so appealing that Charles is easily flattered into getting involved in Jasper’s desperate attempt to escape being blamed for something he didn’t do . . . or did he? Jasper is also a half-caste outsider (except during football games) with a drunken father, so he’s basically had to raise himself, which seems very liberating to conventional Charles.

Charles’s best mate is the small, clever Jeffrey Lu, a Vietnamese cricket tragic who is laughed at by everyone but whose wit appeals to Charles, a budding writer and bit of a nerd.

Charles is torn. With Jasper, the town delinquent, he tries to seem cool and grown-up, joining him smoking and drinking some foul liquor, mostly to try to escape the horror of what they’ve done together. Their relationship is secret and their interaction is only at night, with Charles sneaking out his bedroom window.

Jeffrey is the comic sidekick who bounces back from bullying and is determined to be included in the side for cricket, a hopeless dream in a bigoted small town. He knows nothing about the Jasper situation, so he and Charles banter back and forth as usual, swapping wisecracks and sharing in-jokes, comparing the talents of super-heroes. It’s very real and happily distracting for Charles.

“Jeffrey salutes me.
‘Chuck, I bid you a jew.’
‘And I owe your revoir,’
I say, and watch him leave.”

But Charles is tongue-tied around Eliza, his crush. He recalls Mark Twain, one of his literary heroes advising that it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Then, as he and Eliza become a bit close, he gets braver.

‘ You have very nice dimples,’ I offer. ‘You know, on your cheeks there.’ And I point, sharply, at her jaw, as though she requires me to chart exactly where her dimples reside. I am an idiot. My wit, which flowed briefly, has ebbed. The tide has dried. My mouth is parched and unwieldy and useless.”

He goes on to say how clever Mark Twain is and can do almost anything with words. “But not even Mark Twain could describe just how soft a girl’s lips are when they’re pressed against your own.”

This young lad has a lot to contend with, and the intrigue of the story and the situation Charles and Jasper have come embroiled in makes for compelling reading. I thought it was terrific.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
462 reviews288 followers
October 22, 2016
This is so quintessentially Australian, a real coming of age tale. This book transports us back in time to a small country town in Western Australia during a scorching hot summer set in 1965. The story starts when two boys who have no involvement with each other prior, one a quiet bookish boy and the other a town outcast head into the night and there they find a grisly discovery, this is where the story unfolds. The boys begin an unlikely friendship trying to solve the mystery they encountered. The book delves into small town prejudices, racism and even has a sweet love story in the mix. During the course of trying to solve the mystery many truths come to light, showing the effects of small town mentalities and the aftermath of narrow minded hostilities. There's a lot to love about this story it has a lot of heart. I loved the boyhood banter and it is clear that this author lends itself to many of the literary greats as an influence in writing this, with many references of Mark Twain, Harper Lee and Capote to name a few. I can see how this has been hailed the Aussie version of To Kill a Mockingbird, although it has its own voice, a great story told with its own Australian slant. I began this book without knowing a movie of it is in the works so I'm happy that there will be a movie version out sometime in 2017.
Profile Image for Suz.
1,073 reviews547 followers
October 18, 2022
Where else would you see such gold offerings such as these cards are as useless as a Chocolate teapot and sassy time. I love small happenings like these in a novel, and will quickly warm to these special things.

There is no way my little, insignificant review of this classic novel, can convey the level of greatness of this classic Australian novel.

I am abashed to say I have only just started reading this author’s work in readiness of seeing him at an event next week. I quickly listened to all books on the audio format and can see why this book is so special.

Silvey uses place, time, and relationships to convey such a special story in such a way that the reader leaves their experience being overwhelmed and amazed. Well, this reader was!

The audio was narrated by Matt Cowlrick who delivered an outstanding performance. Young Charlie is our exuberant bookish, quirky, and funny boy who is wise beyond his years. His best mate, Vietnamese Jeffrey Lu is read so well by this narrator that I was transported to 1965 Corrigan, the fictional rural Western Australian town. These two have such a banter and comradery, through mostly turbulent times, they were an absolute force of nature. Jeffrey is an utter delight, with a comedic appearance required to outwardly deal with the unacceptable racist treatment faced his entire short life, as has his family. The Vietnam War is part of this racist attitude. He portrays a strong sense of self, and a bravado that hides a lot.

The racism suffered at the hands of ignorant, racist, jealous, and corrupt townsfolk was intense and unrelenting, but these boys showed a stoicism unbridled, and that combined was truly heart warming. Their jokes and warm relationship hide the mask of the constant bullying and mistreatment. The town shows a noted lack of maturity compared to our collective group of young.

This story is not just about these two, who clearly stole my heart, but of Jasper, our voice and narrator who pulls this story together. Jasper Jones is a tough kid, of mixed race who is the scape goat of everything in this town that goes wrong, imagined or otherwise. Labelled the half-caste, he has a very special relationship with the girl that goes missing in Corrigan, the elusive Laura, daughter of the mayor.

Street smart and cool Jasper appears at Charlie’s window one night needing his assistance. Charlie mirrors what Jasper sees in himself, another misfit although in very different ways, bookish and another outsider. Jasper is in need of a connection with someone that may understand the conundrum he finds himself in. Charlie is scared to death but will help him and is honoured to be approached. They have a definite alliance, but interestingly, Jasper has no family and looks after himself, whereas our Charlie has what appears to be a ‘normal’ family with the presence of both parents. Jasper drinks and smokes, thus conveying his worldliness and an older like mystical quality.

Character descriptions, such as Charlie’s insipid mother in contrast to his quiet, unassuming father who may by all accounts be seen as a push over, and Jeffrey’s strong, silent, and upstanding disrespected parents are all presented in such a way that requires skill and outstanding writing. Charlie's mother is another lesson, all in herself. The allusion, imagery and use of similes are such that it is clear why this book is used as texts in Australian schools. Teacher’s will have a field day teaching this text, and in fact I receommended it to an overseas English teaching friend.

Serious life changing events have occurred amongst this group of individuals for this crescendo to erupt. All these young characters are an enigma in a way, and at many times do not have the words to convey their turmoil, but the author has the deft skill of showing us via all the different ways I have mentioned that these kids are smart, emotive, they are strong beings with the weight of the world on their young shoulders.

There is a very important cricket match, stakes are very high, usually young Jeffrey never gets a look in. He is always 12th man or a fair go; the team and coach do not include or recognise him as a part of. Jeffrey pulls off a performance that is magical, and to anyone that does not understand cricket (I do) this does not matter. The emotion, the importance and the build up happen naturally, and the outcome plain and heart-palpably real. Cricket was Jeffrey’s weapon, and he used it that day.

This is a must read for everyone, and alas, my lengthy reviews can’t be tamed here. There is too much good stuff going on if one looks hard enough to absorb it all completely.

To leave this serious consideration of a wonderful novel in a less sombre mood, it must be said that ‘sassy time’ alludes to canoodling – of the girl and boy kind. Did Jeffrey give his best mate stick about that! This was an absolute delight.

**Addendum 18/10/2022 It was a treat to see the author in conversation last night. Such a clever guy and very interesting to see how things come together in his process. A hint.. he's written a screen play along with (another) book... How?!!
Profile Image for Krystal.
1,360 reviews352 followers
May 11, 2019
And here we have another favourite that did not do it for me.

I don't know why books set in small Australian towns are so freaking dull. I mean, there's a murder mystery! How do you turn that into boring?

In this case, tell the story from a 13-year old boy's POV, and make him a philosophical little snot. Don't forget to throw in a ton of Aussie slang, and have the dialogue spelt incorrectly to convey a typical Aussie yobbo accent, just for good measure.

What a yawn fest.

The plot: Town pariah, 14-year old Jasper Jones, comes to nerd Charlie's window one night with a secret. Charlie gets drawn in and suddenly finds himself questioning everything in FKN EXISTENCE.

Instead of learning more of the mystery surrounding The Body, we get to hear about the racism directed towards Charlie's best friend, Jeffrey, and his Vietnamese family, and how bitchy Charlie's mum is, and how useless his dad is, and how PERRRRTTY Eliza is (and smells. Yeah buddy, that's not weird at all ...) Also, poor Jasper. And cricket. Don't forget cricket.

It's another one of those novels where there is basically no action. Unless you like cricket. (I myself had no fkn clue what was happening in those scenes ... do I look like the kind of person who follows cricket? Honestly.) There is way too much talking and thinking and Charlie is selfish and petulant and, sure, a typical Aussie teenager really, but he was just really painful to read. Turns out I really don't care for being in the mind of a teenage boy. Go figure.

There are so many themes that it's kind of hard to get a grip on what the point is. I mean, obviously racism is a big thing, but this is more evident in the treatment of Jeffrey and his family, rather than Jasper's being half aboriginal. Tbh, there's like one line regarding the latter and it made very little impact on the story. It seemed to me Jasper was an outcast because of his behaviour, and his home life, more than his ancestry.

I guess to me it felt like this book just bit off too many themes. Then neatly wraps them all together at the end and you're just supposed to magically understand all the Big Ideas that have been thrown at you willy nilly in the past 400-odd pages. Meanwhile my mind is still trying to figure out why Jasper is never referred to by just his first name.

I get that this is a book beyond the story - that this is about ideas, and small people standing up to big people, and small minds in small towns, and injustice, etc etc. I GET IT. But it is BORING to read about if nothing is actually happening. Charlie just asks himself a bunch of questions for pages at a time and it doesn't progress anything. It's just monotonous and dull and it bored me so much.

Even the ending took its sweet ass time.

Did not work for me. I was wise to avoid it for so long.

I read this as book 5 of my #dymocks52challenge refined. You can read more here.
Profile Image for Pei Pei.
287 reviews30 followers
August 24, 2012
This book was so odd to me and I didn't know how to rate it, ultimately deciding on a 1.5 that I'm rounding down, as explained below. I honestly was surprised, after reading the book and writing this review, to click on the book's main page and discover that not only is it very highly rated, but it has also been nominated for and won numerous awards.

The basic premise (which, when summarized in the library catalog, was what encouraged me to read the book in the first place) is interesting: two teenagers discover something horrible one night in a town in Australia during the Vietnam War, then have to deal with the aftermath. There's a lot of potential with the theme of the children in a town all being discontented and disconnected from the supposedly unified town culture; the children hold all of the town's secrets and experience life there very differently than the adults do. Not a revolutionary idea, but a promising theme that is universal and recognizable, yet also has a lot of opportunity for an author to put a unique spin on it.

However, while Silvey tries AWFULLY hard (probably too hard), the unique spin never takes off. After the establishment of the basic premise, the plot, characters, and setting are sorely underdeveloped. The 1st-person narrator, Charlie, is currently reading Mark Twain and other Southern (American) writers (his father is an English teacher), and frequently alludes to Huck Finn and especially To Kill a Mockingbird in a very heavy-handed way. The problem is, in a book that's partly built on suspense and a "whodunit" premise, none of the plot "twists"/developments toward the end of the book are AT ALL surprising if you've read TKAM; there are direct and obvious parallels. There's a way to do this that might have seemed clever and self-reflexive, but in this particular case it doesn't seem intentional; it's just a rip-off. I do consider the notion that the book is supposed to be Charlie himself novelizing the events, which explains some of the pretentious writing (discussed below), but that doesn't excuse the events themselves from mirroring TKAM's to the extent that they do. Then, given that Jasper Jones is the Huck Finn equivalent here, it doesn't work that he's a completely secondary character who doesn't actually appear that often in the book (I guess you could potentially argue that Jasper = Jim, while Charlie = Huck, but Charlie is so CLEARLY not Huck Finn-like in any way that I couldn't really go for that interpretation). Huck Finn wouldn't be terribly interesting as a character either if we only saw him in snippets. We never have any context for understanding Jasper as a character and understanding why he's such a pariah in the town, other than what Charlie tells us, because we never actually SEE Jasper interact with anyone in the town, other than Charlie, basically. We never get a satisfactory explanation of why Jasper chooses Charlie to help him at the beginning - it seems that they didn't even know each other that well before Jasper turns up at Charlie's window. The whole thing just seems badly contrived.

Meanwhile, Charlie is a bizarrely passive protagonist; after a vivid opening chapter introducing the central conflict, virtually no plot advancement occurs in the first 1/2-2/3 of the book because Charlie doesn't do anything about it. He thinks about it, but only in a very internalized way; you'd think he'd look at EVERYONE in a different way following the events of the first chapter, but he doesn't. Other than a trip to the library and some internal monologue, it's as if the entire inciting event didn't even happen, based on Charlie's first-half storyline.

Part of the reason why the characters are so amorphous is that I also had no sense whatsoever of what the town, Corrigan, is like, yet Silvey tries to define his characters, especially Charlie, by their opposition to the town culture. Part of this might be my lack of understanding of Australian geography and culture, but the town was very thinly portrayed and I felt like I was left filling in a lot of gaps with assumptions, whereas a book like this really requires specifics. Think of how powerfully you feel the South in TKAM and Huck Finn, through description, secondary characters, and minor plot events (I'm thinking right now of the rabid dog incident in TKAM) - the same cannot be said of Corrigan here; too much is left vague. The fact that the story takes place during the Vietnam War is only significant for the storyline of Jeffrey, Charlie's best friend, who is simultaneously the best and worst character in the book. The best because he is one of the only characters who actually has a distinctive, and often funny, voice, but the worst because he suffers desperately from Silvey's chronic overwriting syndrome. Part of the book's pacing problem is because Silvey indulges in pages-long dialogue between Charlie and Jeffrey (and even Charlie and Jasper's dialogue is also overly long and repetitive, both in the opening and chapter and subsequently) that does not advance plot, character, or theme, and by the end of the book it just gets tiresome. It's like B-movie teenage boy-speak sometimes. Charlie's narration is also irritatingly affected, frequently overusing short sentences for dramatic effect and I think to embody some notion of an "authentic male teenage voice," and again, I get the idea that this is Charlie's novel and he is writing it the way pretentious booky teenage boys might write it, but ultimately it only annoyed me and gave me reader whip-lash from all the herky-jerkiness of his voice. There's only so much of bad, aspiring-to-be-literary teenage writing you can take, and at this saturation level, it transcends the original conceit and just becomes bad writing, period. There's a point where it's not Charlie overdoing it anymore, it's Silvey overdoing it, and it's much less forgivable coming from an adult author versus a fictional teenage character.

Finally, I don't support the author psychology school of interpretation, but if I did, I'd say Silvey has some major Freudian mommy issues, because all of the mothers in this book (especially Charlie's) are absolutely horrible, vile caricatures with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Ultimately, this may have been what bothered me most of all, convinced me that the book's other shortcomings really are due to shoddy composition and development, and caused me to round down, versus up, on the 1.5-star rating.
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
655 reviews3,853 followers
October 28, 2016
Superman fears nothing because outside a few very specific circumstances where he might encounter some stupid rock, nothing can possibly do him in. Batman has the same vulnerabilities as the rest of us, so he has the same fears as us. That’s why he is the most courageous: because he can put those aside and fight on regardless. My point is this: the more you have to lose, the braver you are for standing up

There are some books that keep you entertained.. and there are some books that touch your soul. Jasper Jones is a real soul toucher. It's a beautiful book, about growing up and discovering things about ourselves and others. It's a book about good friendships, strong friendships and unconditional friendships. It's about standing up to those who unfairly keep us downtrodden, it's about confronting injustice and small-mindedness and it's about first loves and it's about so much more.

It's set in Australia, 1956, small town called Corrigan. It follows our protagonist, Charlie Bucktin, a bookish boy of 13 who's in love with literature, terrified of his mum and eager to leave the small town to head to the city.

Enter Jasper Jones: Half Indigenous Australian, the town "delinquent", not as bad as people would have you believe. When Jasper Jones comes to Charlie's window in the middle of the night, to desperately ask him for help Charlie follows, and soon is embroiled in a mystery about the town that's bigger then both him and Jasper.

It's hard to explain exactly what this is about without spoiling everything, but it was intriguing to me to the very end, and surprisingly, I actually remained completely clueless until the great reveal, I didn't guess anything that was revealed at the end.

The beauty of this story is in alot of things, but one highlight is the characters. The main three characters, Charlie, Jasper and Jeffery Lu are so different to eachother but each has a great dynamic. Charlie serves as an honest and raw protagonist. Jasper is an interesting, dynamic character who's presence immediately lights the book up - he was endlessly interesting. And Jeffery Lu is hilarious, genuinely made me laugh out loud while listening to this more then once. I loved his and Charlie's dialogue and banter - but I loved too that he had real sides to him, hard edges and the way he moved this his space in society due to his race was honest yet saddening.

I honestly don't know how to explain this book, except to say I found it honest and raw - I found it did not skate over the icky bits of history, it did not shy away from portraying Australian's as maybe we don't like to be seen. And I'm glad it didn't do the whole "the bush will revive me as a human" thing that all Australian authors seem to do. It was realistic, gritty and awful at times but realistic. And I thought the discussions on race were accurate, and I think the way the characters were treated for their race was an honest discussion that had to be had.

The blooming romance between Eliza and Charlie was not overdone or cringey, it was cute, slow-burn and I thought Silvey portrayed that breathless discovery of first love so perfectly. I loved the friendships, I loved how Charlie and Jeffery talked, I loved how Jasper and Charlie talked.

Sorry means you feel the pulse of other people’s pain as well as your own, and saying it means you take a share of it. And so it binds us together, makes us trodden and sodden as one another. Sorry is a lot of things. It’s a hole refilled. A debt repaid. Sorry is the wake of misdeed. It’s the crippling ripple of consequence. Sorry is sadness, just as knowing is sadness. Sorry is sometimes self-pity. But Sorry, really, is not about you. It’s theirs to take or leave.

Jasper Jones: a beautiful story about friendship and first love. An honest story about small-mindedness, racism and country towns. Funny, sad, disturbing, cute, quirky and honest - I loved the portrayal of Australia and it's people, I loved the mystery, I loved the romance, I loved the characters and the prose and everything in between.

A really wonderful Australian novel, genuine and realistic. It's hard to explain exactly what is so captivating, and exactly why it has me reeling and why it's touched me on a profound level, but it has and this is in instant Australian fave.
Profile Image for Rob.
511 reviews103 followers
August 4, 2021
Stand alone fiction published 2009

An outstanding 5 stars

Most of us get some worthy talents that get us through life and then there’s the chosen few who get way more than their fair share. Craig Silvey falls, well and truly, into the later category.
This is quite simply story telling at its gobsmacking finest.
This is the telling of Charlie Buckton’s young life, a journey with all the highs and lows that can be fitted into one so young.
Corrigan, a place to call home. Loved by some and hated by others. A small country town in rural Australia where community still matters but it’s by no means perfect. Where you find people you’ll find trouble in all its many facets.
Charlie, a bookish, well behaved 13 year old gets a knock on his bedroom window one night. The one doing the knocking is Jasper Jones, a young local ne’er do well. Charlie who has hardly said a word to Jasper ever is taken aback when Jasper asks Charlie to come with him. With some reservation Charlie decides to go with Jasper and what happens next will change Charlie’s and Jasper’s life for ever. Charlie is about to see his first dead body.
I wont give away anymore of the plot but suffice to say that what Craig Silvey does with this plot had me captured. He take the boring, mundane life of Corrigan and drops a dead body into the mix and that’s just the start of the revelations that are about to unfold.

I just can’t overstate how brilliant this book is.
Profile Image for Choco.
128 reviews11 followers
November 21, 2011
Hoping to grab your attention, I would like to start this review by saying that Craig Silvey is up there with Markus Zusak in awesomeness. This is a rare book, which I can pick up, open any page and feel certain that single page or even a paragraph will make me feel something and satisfy me. It is a rare book in that upon finishing it I had to run out to a bookstore and buy myself my own copy. There is a tangible air around my copy, and every time I open it, the air thickens and fills me with something I cannot describe.

I usually don't talk much about plots in my review because I personally don't like to know much about them before reading a book. However, I just have to with this book.

The story starts on a very hot night in 1965 when a thirteen year-old boy, Charlie, hears a knock on his window. It's Jasper Jones, a boy with a bad reputation who is blamed for everything that goes wrong in their small town, Corrigan. He needs help, and what Jasper Jones shows Charlie that night changes everything. It marks the end of innocence for Charlie. This book is about the mystery around what Charlie sees that night, but it's also Charlie's coming-of-age story faced with the reality, a big, scary and unfair world. He is an honest and very observant narrator, and it gives a surprising amount of layers and depth to the story.

Charlie starts out as a boy who is terrified of insects or talking to a girl he likes. His best friend, Jeffery, and Charlie love fooling around, engaging in hilarious dialogues, every one of which turned out to be meaningful to a plot, which surprised me because they are just so funny and you'd think that's good enough for their purpose! Honestly, you could read this book for their dialogues. I've never laughed so hard reading the characters' dialogues.

With the secret now he holds with Jasper, he starts to see things with his eyes open wider. His own family issues. Unfairness in Corrigan. Jeffrey's hard life despite his happy-go-lucky demeanour. Unlike Charlie, Jeffrey's eyes are wide open toward the unfair world in Corrigan. That's Jeffery's strength. And that's why he serves as a role model to Charlie in a subtle way. So much more happens, and Charlie becomes stronger and more mature This book is so much more than any plot summary can grasp. It's about friendship, courage, fearing real things instead of imagined things, and choosing to face the fear and taking an action. It's about many things. It's totally packed.

It's beautifully written. It's hilarious, heart-warming, nostalgic and heart-breaking. If you are to pick up one more Aussie book this year, let it be this one.

Now. After writing this review, I am moving this book to my favourite shelf from my loved shelf.
Profile Image for Olivia.
31 reviews72 followers
June 24, 2018
I got to study one of my favourite books for English class which was pretty cool. Here's my speech which I'll have to present in a couple of days. I may have paraphrased a couple of reviews on here, just putting it out there.

When I first picked up this book back at the very beginning of 2017, I was unprepared for the emotional journey that I would experience. Though to be honest, my 13-year-old mind didn’t quite understand its importance regarding social issues and prejudices, but rather focused on the depressing realities expressed by the characters through their contemplations. Jasper Jones, in a summary, is about how horrible this world can be and the realization that people are not always what society makes them out to be. Through the many difficulties faced by the characters, you learn about the effects of small town mentalities and the aftermath of narrow-minded hostilities. This novel forces you to take off your rose-coloured glasses and see things for how they really are.

What I found most interesting about Jasper Jones, especially now on my second read, was Charlie and Jeffrey’s arguments about Batman and Superman. Looking past the hilarious dialogues, there is an important message that the author is trying to communicate. Charlie argues that although Superman is invincible, Batman’s lack of superpowers makes him superior as he relies on his bravery and determination to continually risk his life despite his mortality. He then says, “The more you have to lose, the braver you are for standing up”. This is something that Charlie had to learn himself as he is compelled to make life-altering choices and grow up quickly in a way that most kids never have to. Through his experiences, Charlie recognises that his fears and insecurities are an essential part of his character and that to banish them, though it would make life easier, would turn him into someone he’s not.

The language style the author uses is deeply philosophical. It leaves you to contemplate world views, and ultimately, yourself and your own beliefs. The inner voices of the characters were wise beyond their years as they faced their difficulties with the knowledge and experience that adulthood might never have taught them.

Racism commonly occurred throughout the novel in the forms of scapegoating and undeserved cruelty, Jasper Jones being the prime target in the novel. The community of Corrigan, stuck on their prejudices, happily encouraged the discrimination and harassment directed towards him; Jasper was often blamed for any crime that was committed in the area no matter how obvious it was that he wasn’t responsible. People marginalised him because of the colour of his skin and labelled him as a “thief and a liar” without considering that his choices weren’t based on poor morals, but rather necessity. This was evident when he told Charlie, “I never stole a thing I didn't need". The ignorance and malice demonstrated by the community highlights the injustice that people are still facing to this day.

Jasper Jones is a unique novel unlike any other I have ever read. The reader may not be going through a similar circumstance to the characters, but they are still able to connect with them through their emotions and memorable words of wisdom. The greatest thing that I have learned from this novel is that growing up and becoming an adult are two entirely different things. It’s important not to lose sight of your destination, because even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we want to go from there.
Profile Image for K..
3,595 reviews1,001 followers
December 3, 2016
I've put off reading this book for years because the cover is kind of bland. And then I picked it up fully expecting it would take me the better part of a week to read it. But I sped through it in 24 hours.

The tagline bills it as an Australian version of To Kill a Mockingbird, and I...kind of agree with that? Like, it deals with racial tension in a small rural town in the 1960s. There are plenty of racial stereotypes involved, both for Jasper Jones, who's Aboriginal and blamed for basically everything that happens in the town, and for the narrator's best friend, Jeffrey Lu, and his family who are Vietnamese immigrants living in small town Western Australia during the Vietnam War. There's also a local recluse who everyone assumes is up to no good. A kid learning just how racist their town is and learning that his dad is pretty stinking awesome.

But it's also very much its own book. Charlie is a pretty fabulous character. It feels incredibly Australian, what with the casual racism and the cricket and all the swearing. It's a disturbing book at times, but it's so beautifully written and so full of wonderful characters, and I'm ridiculously excited about seeing the movie that's coming out next year because it looks AMAZING.
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,027 reviews2,628 followers
October 21, 2014
What a wonderfully touching coming of age novel this is! I loved it, the tension, the nervous flush of young love, the injustice of the times....

It was hot, summer in Australia is like that, and December 1965 was no exception. The heat was cloying, there was no getting away from it, and the nights were the hardest...not much sleep for anyone. Late one night 13 year old Charlie Bucktin was lying on his bed in his sleep-out, reading...his absolute favourite past-time. Since his father had given him access to his library of wonderful books, he’d never been happier. Mark Twain was an especial favourite...

Suddenly there was a knock on his window. Jasper Jones stood outside and he wanted Charlie to go with him...Jasper was a social outcast in the town, he was mixed-race, rebellious and everyone said he was trouble. You definitely COULD NOT be seen with Jasper! So of course Charlie wanted to impress, and when Jasper seemed desperate for Charlie’s help, how could he refuse? He was terrified, but determined to stand by Jasper....

Following Jasper as they wound their way through the back streets of Corrigan, then through the bush to places Charlie didn’t even know existed was exhilarating, yet terrifying...Charlie had an awful fear of all creepy crawlies, and his imagination was going into overdrive. But when they arrived at their destination, all things faded into insignificance, as Charlie saw why Jasper had brought him here, to Jasper’s secret glade, his home away from home. His horror was absolute!

And so, Charlie’s life as he’d always known it, changed forever. With a secret this big, and his fear so great, with only Jasper and Charlie aware of what was happening, and the town’s suspicions and fears gaining momentum, Charlie couldn’t eat, he couldn’t sleep...he tried to keep up appearances, but everything was changing. His best friend, Jeffrey Lu, was the only person he could talk to, but he couldn’t tell him the secret, so his friendship was doubly precious. Cricket was Jeffrey’s love, so Charlie bowled to him, day after day, hour after hour; they listened to the Test Match on the wireless...with Charlie all the while trying the keep his thoughts in focus.

The absolute intensity of this novel as it covers things like injustice, hypocrisy, young love, racism and inhumanity make this story incredibly distinctive, at times I laughed out loud, at other times I was heart-broken.

Jasper Jones is an amazing tale by brilliant new Australian author, Craig Silvey. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Marianne.
3,326 reviews128 followers
August 20, 2020
Jasper Jones is Craig Silvey’s second novel. The audio version is brilliantly narrated by Humphrey Bower. It is set during a hot summer in 1965 in a small West Australian town, Corrigan, and narrated by thirteen-year-old Charlie Bucktin. Charlie is surprised by Jasper Jones’ appearance at his sleepout window: Jasper needs his help. Jasper, mixed race, rebellious and solitary, represents danger and intrigue for Charlie: he is desperate to impress him and so goes along with Jasper. This action unleashes a sequence of events that will change Charlie, Jasper and the people of the town of Corrigan.

Silvey’s elegant prose touches on racism, adultry, truth and lies, human weakness, falling in love, trust, small-town boredom, cricket, coming of age, love of literature, hope and despair and long-kept secrets. Silvey’s characters are compelling, his dialogue is credible and his plot takes a few unexpected turns. The subject matter could have been heavy going, but Silvey provides us with exceptional comic relief in the delightful Jeffrey Lu, Charlie’s best friend. Jeffrey’s conversations with Charlie provide many laugh-out-loud moments. Charlie’s relationship with his father, Wes, and later with his prospective girlfriend, Eliza, provide a heartening contrast to some other aspects of the story. Jasper Jones is an outstanding and decidedly enjoyable novel: let us hope for more like this from Craig Silvey.
Profile Image for Natalie M.
1,043 reviews30 followers
August 1, 2020
A rare Australian coming of age novel. Beautifully written, incorporating many notions & concepts that make us Australian, not all of which are positive. Realistic, brutal and like reading in 'a snow globe during a blizzard' A novel for older teenagers!
Profile Image for Kylie H.
880 reviews
January 25, 2022
This should go straight to the pool room!!
An absolute Australian classic and I am putting it right next to Cloudstreet on my bookshelf. I have circled this book a few times and I am not sure why I avoided it so long, I was expecting it to feel like a Year 12 text book, and in some ways it did, but not in a bad way.
The story is set in rural Australia, 1965. Jasper Jones is actually more of a peripheral character in the story in which Charlie Bucktin is in fact the narrator and central character.
Rather than bang on, I will just recommend. Read this book! You may not love it, but something from it will resonate and stay with you.
Profile Image for Warwick.
812 reviews14.5k followers
October 4, 2014
I'm going to be in a tiny mining town in Western Australia in a couple of weeks, and as I was casting around my shelves looking for something relevant to read, I stumbled on this, which amazingly is set in a tiny mining town in Western Australia. It's signed by the author and inscribed ‘Dear Warwick, keep writing!’ and there's a bookmark in it from Annie's Books in Peregian Beach, Queensland. I have absolutely no memory of acquiring it….

Hmm. Anyway, it turns out to be an engaging little coming-of-age tale set in the mid-1960s. It opens with a classic beautiful-girl-found-dead scene and includes the usual roster of high school bullies, teen romance, small-town mystery, corrupt authorities and contemporary politics, all bolstered with some nice descriptions of the surrounding landscape and its flora – lots of jarrahs and honkynuts, paperbarks and snottygobbles.

Although the story is really very charming, I found myself slightly frustrated. The prose has a young-adult feel; the writing is a bit light – I wanted everything to be denser and more complicated somehow. Occasionally he's downright clunky:

I should turn my face and look away. It's not for me to share. But I'm eerily adhered. […] This is torrid to watch.

There are many references to Southern Gothic literature, which Silvey clearly thinks makes a good analogue for the rural Australian scene – and it does – although seven references to Atticus Fitch makes your claims to be ‘the Australian To Kill A Mockingbird’ (as it was obediently labelled by The Monthly, among others) a bit too obvious: here we have the same mysterious house nearby whose inhabitant is known only by name, the same noble and honest father, the same race relations issues with Vietnamese substituted for African-American.

I liked the narrator's reflection, after his first taste of cigarettes and whisky, on how he had been let down by his literary heroes:

This shit is poison. And I realise I've been betrayed by the two vices that fiction promised me I'd adore. Sal Paradise held up bottles of booze like a housewife in a detergent commercial. Holden Caulfield reached for his cigarettes like an act of faith. Even Huckleberry Finn tapped on his pipe with relief and satisfaction. I can't trust anything. If sex turns out to be this bad, I'm never reading again.

I found it a bit light overall, but if you just want a good read you should enjoy it a lot. It would make a great movie.
Profile Image for Sarah.
673 reviews127 followers
September 2, 2021
Jasper Jones has been on my TBR for a long time, and I'm pleased to report that it met my expectations - it's a well-written, evocative and thought-provoking read.
The setting is the (fictional) regional Western Australian town of Corrigan in 1965, during the early days of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam war.
Bookish 13-year-old Charlie Bucktin is a bit of a misfit in a community that reveres sporting prowess and traditional notions of masculinity. One summer night, Charlie is summoned from sleep by notorious half-caste* teenager Jasper Jones, who leads him to a horrifying scene on the banks of a lake outside the town. (I use the term "half-caste" for its historical connotations during the period in which the novel is set, although I acknowledge that the term and concept is now considered offensive and inappropriate when applied to those with indigenous ancestry.)
The ramifications of what he's seen, and the actions he and Jasper took to obscure what's happened reverberate for Charlie throughout the novel. It's a forced coming-of-age for Charlie, as he navigates the town's small-minded racism, his fraught relationship with his highly-strung mother and his budding romance with classmate Eliza Wishart.
Given the use of a child narrator, small-town setting and themes of racism, comparisons have perhaps inevitably been drawn with Harper Lee's 1960 classic, To Kill A Mockingbird. Certainly, the central character makes many references to the novel, as well as to the work of Mark Twain and others, throughout the narrative. For me, Jasper Jones also recalled the coming-of-age themes of Stephen King's novella The Body, published in his 1982 anthology Different Seasons and adapted for the screen under the title "Stand by Me" in 1986.
I found Craig Silvey's writing style evocative and stimulating, a genuine Australian voice. His characters are well-developed and convincing and the dialogue realistic and engaging - I particularly loved the comic foil provided by Charlie's exchanges with his best friend, Jeffrey Lu. The themes of emerging identity, the angst of youth, complex family dynamics and the experience of racial discrimination were portrayed with sensitivity and a finely-balanced pathos.
Jasper Jones was a great read, and I can well understand the novel's status as a modern Australian classic and a popular feature of high school literature curricula. Very highly recommended.
Profile Image for Fabian {Councillor}.
229 reviews475 followers
February 8, 2017
Although “Jasper Jones” easily reaches its position among the Top 10 of my all-time-favourite books, I have delayed writing this review for such a long time that there’s no way for me to find a new alibi once again. Craig Silvey has earned each praise he could possibly receive, for he has managed to take his reader on a journey as complex and thrilling as only a few authors are usually able to. At least in my case.

The novel focuses on different, yet convincingly established subjects like discrimination and racism, social marginalization and unlikely friendships, all of them woven into the context of a ruthlessly conducted murder. Supported by the excellent description of a small town setting in the Australian Outback of the mid-60s, all those aspects are depicted with an unexpected realism, helping the reader to delve deeper into the story. From a general point of view, the plotlines are cheerless and bleak, yet Craig Silvey manages to make the reader feel comfortable with the setting he created, the realistic characters he introduced and the story he so perfectly outlined.

Of course, even the best book has some flaws, some things to be missed. For example, there was a LOT of cricket in this book. And if I say a lot, I mean a good deal more than that. The author even included a five-pages-long cricket glossary at the end of the book due to several terms anyone not or only slightly interested in cricket would not have understood otherwise. It was distracting to have to look up all those terms every time they were mentioned, and they were mentioned quite often. But don’t think this is a book about cricket. The sport aspects are very interestingly included into the story, bringing several characters together on one huge occasion and creating momentous conflicts with essential consequences.

The book had many things to enjoy. There was Jeffrey Lu, a Vietnamese immigrant and the protagonist’s best friend, there were some thrilling trips into the Australian outback, a creepy description of the protagonists finding a dead body, the realistic portrayal of severe and struggling parents, and a matching ending. I have to admit, it’s probably a book which is not going to be liked by everyone. You might love it, or you might hate it, but it’s so worth the read, though.

The coolest thing about it all: I actually caught myself complaining about the hot temperatures, reading of how Chuck and all the other characters had to sweat. In January. Yes. I complained about hot temperatures in January, because of a story set during a summer in Australia. Now say something about the atmosphere not being well-established.

Finally, I’ll include two quotes which might (or might not) make you realize how well the author was able to find words for what he wanted to describe, and will end this review with a huge recommendation for everyone who’s interested in a lovely book dealing with important subjects and interesting, breathing characters.

“I don't understand a thing about this world: about people, and why they do the things they do. The more I find out, the more I uncover, the more I know, the less I understand.”

“There’s no such thing as God, Charlie, at least not how they say. Just like there’s no such thing as Zeus or Apollo or bloody unicorns. You’re on your own. And that can make you feel either lonely or powerful. When you’re born, you wither luck out or you don’t. It’s a lottery. Tough shit or good on yer. But from there, it’s all up to you… soon as you can walk and talk, you start makin your own luck. And I don’t need some spirit in the sky to help me do that. I can do it on me own. But see, that’s what I reckon God really is, Charlie. It’s that part inside me that’s stronger and harder than anything else. And I reckon prayer is just trusting in it, having faith in it, just asking meself to be tough. And that’s all you can do. I don’t need a bunch of bullshit stories about towers and boats and floods or rules about sin. It’s all just a complicated way to get to that place in you, and it’s not honest either. I don’t need to trick meself into thinking anyone else is listenin’, or even cares. Because it doesn’t matter. I matter. And I know I’ll be alright. Because I got a good heart, and fuck this town for making me try and believe otherwise. It’s what you come with and what you leave with. And that’s all I got.”

Oh, I have to reread this sooner than soon.
Profile Image for Ace.
431 reviews23 followers
January 22, 2023
Susie and co.... done and dusted :-)
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,276 reviews2,213 followers
May 10, 2014
While this story can be described as coming of age story, 13 year old Charlie Bucktin is already wise beyond his years in many ways. Some of Charlie's decisions may be rash but his motives are always above reproach. Charlie befriends Jasper Jones, a mixed race boy whose reputation as a trouble maker, thief and who is blamed for anything else bad that happens in Corrigan is based more on prejudice than truth. Charlie recognizing that Jasper would not be treated fairly, decides to help him keep a horrific secret. And so the tangled web of secrets begins.

There is even more prejudice going on here in that summer of 1965. Charlie's best friend, Jeffrey Lu and his family who are from Vietnam , become victims to the blind hatred of people in the town and Charlie is appalled by it and especially that no did anything about it .You can't help but love Charlie for his innate sense of what is wrong about how people treat each other in this town.
You will also love him because he loves reading. Referring to his father, Charlie says : “Later that night, he came into my room with a stack of books and quietly offered me the very thing I’d wanted all my life: permission to read whatever I liked from his library. My father’s rows and stacks of novels had awed me since he taught me to read, but he always chose the volumes he thought were appropriate. So it felt important, and it was clear to me that he thought it was significant too.”

Charlie discovers even more devastating secrets that summer about his family and about what really is behind what Jasper found. Fortunately, the author infuses some lighthearted moments with the wit of wonderful Jeffery Yu. Things are not necessarily neatly resolved in the end. The secrets are divulged, but not to everyone. This was a moving story of friendship, trust, family relationships, and tender first love. Even though the novel is described at times as a YA book, the adult themes here as well as the wonderful characters we find make this one I would recommend to anyone of any age.
Profile Image for Molly.
342 reviews127 followers
December 18, 2015
Sorry. Sorry is a question that begs forgiveness, because the metronome of a good heart won’t settle until things are set right and true.”


Rating, 4.5 ... aww hell, 5

This one was on my TBR forever. Why? I mean, if you want to read a good YA book, you can hardly go wrong with an Aussie author.Melina Marchetta, Cath Crowley, Shirley Marr, Kirsty Eagar, Vikki Wakefield, Jaclyn Moriarty, to name a few, had never let me down. Why did I avoided this highly praised book. ... Hmph, I just noticed something ... No, it is not because the writer is male .... it's because I'm a chicken. The reviewers promised sorrow and heartbreak and I just ... chickened-out.


Back to the book (finished last week, another tardy review ... this is becoming a bad habit)


Time setting: 1995 (or 94, not sure), it's hot, so I guess it's summer (Australian summer, so probably December to January)

Where everything unfolds: Corrigan (fictional), small, isolated, mining town (and it's surroundings) somewhere in West Australia

Protagonist: No, not Jasper Jones (although he plays an important part), but Charles "Charlie" Bucktin , a nerdy 13 year old.

So, we have here, a coming-of-age story of a thirteen year old boy, and a mystery surrounding a disappearance/murder of a teenage girl, in tight lipped and small-minded mining town, set somewhere during the time Australia increased its involvement in Vietnam, by sending soldiers to fight in the conflict.

“How eerie and distilled this night is. How strange and abandoned and unsettled I am. Like a snow-dome paperweight that’s been shaken. There’s a blizzard in my bubble. Everything in my world that was steady and sure and sturdy has been shaken out of place, and it’s now drifting and swirling back down in a confetti of debris.”


Charlie is a relatively smart boy. He loves to read, and dreams of becoming a writer. His favorite authors are Harper Lee (he often wonders what would Atticus Finch do, in a situation) and Mark Twain, who according to his father has an answer to every question....he has a crush on the pretty and smart Eliza Wishart (Laura's younger sister) ... he is picked upon very often by the school bullies ... his best friend is a hilarious and stubborn Vietnamese boy Jeffrey Lu (who has a load of his own problems).

“Nobody is truly virtuous, nobody avoids the creeping curse. Every character in every story is buffeted between good and bad, between right and wrong. But it’s good people who can tell the difference, who know when they’ve crossed the line. And it’s a hard and humbling gesture, to take blame and admit fault. You’ve got to get brave to say it and mean it. Sorry."

One hot summer night, Jasper Jones comes up to his window.. Charlie can't believe his luck. The infamous, most feared kid in town has come to his house and is asking him to go with him.
An outcast in the Corrigan community, fourteen years old, Jasper Jones is half-white, half-Aborigine ... half-caste as most people call him behind his back.

“Jasper Jones has a terrible reputation in Corrigan. He’s a Thief, a Liar, a Thug, a Truant. He’s lazy and unreliable. He’s a feral and an orphan, or as good as. His mother is dead and his father is no good. He’s the rotten model that parents hold aloft as a warning: This is how you’ll end up if you’re disobedient. Jasper Jones is the example of where poor aptitude and attitude will lead.”

“In families throughout Corrigan, he’s the first name to be blamed for all manner of trouble. Whatever the misdemeanor, and no matter how clear their own child’s guilt, parents ask immediately: Were you with Jasper Jones? And of course, more often than not, their kids will lie. They nod, because Jasper’s involvement instantly absolves them. It means they’ve been led astray.”

Charlie is mesmerized by the charismatic Jasper Jones, and he follows him blindly through the bush to a secret hide-out. Maybe she should turn back...

“..if it were anyone else, I would choose to step back and turn away right now. I would never bow my head and push through that bush, and its golden flowers would never shake loose and nestle in my hair like confetti. I would never grab at its rough trunk to save me from tripping. I would never part its locks of foliage. And I would never lift my head to see this neat clearing of land.

I would never look past Jasper Jones to reveal his secret.
But I don’t turn back. I stay. I follow Jasper Jones.
And I see it.
And everything changes.
The world breaks and spins and shakes."

..but he wasn't remotely prepared for the sight that awaited him beyond the wattle bush, under the eucalypt tree ...


“Laura Wishart is dead. Look. Dead. She is right there, hanging from that tree. Right there. In the center of Jasper Jones’s part of the world. Hovering above his piece of earth.
Two boys and a body."

Jasper Jones insists they have to hide the body first, and try to get to Laura's killer later. He reasons that no no one would believe he is innocent if she's found in his hideout (too heavy to move elsewhere through the bush ...to risky to report). Charlie gives in, and the boys disappear Laura Wishart's body ... a rope ... a stone on one end ... and down the dam she goes ...


Now they HAVE committed a crime ...

“I realize that the water I’ve been given has likely been scooped from the dam, at the bottom of which Laura Wishart sits still, pale and soft. I can’t help but think of her, swaying like an angel in the water, her hair slowly twisting. Silky and serpentine. Just as quickly, I imagine I’ve drunk odd flecks and flakes of her skin, bits of her body. I retch it up instantly, grunting like an animal."


A beautiful story, sometimes dark and unsettling, warm and even hilarious at times.

Charlie is your typical YA hero, the introspective geek with a geek best friend, and a typical dysfunctional family. Nothing revolutionary, and not a type of character I haven't read before, but Charlie's voice was pretty unique. Maybe unique is not the right word, but at the moment the right one escapes me. Loved those repeating of his inner thoughts ... Jasper Jones this and Jasper Jones that (he is never once called just Jasper) on and on .... Repetitive, yes ... but somehow on the mark (My brain also goes in overload when I'm stressed, so ... coherent thoughts ...bye, bye.... I get that) .

“She’d gone. Snuffed like a candle. Laura had just fallen from grace. She’d disappeared. Gulped and swallowed by something enormous and unseen."

The romance angle (Is it called romance, when one is thirteen?) was somehow stretched . I couldn't convince myself that Charlie could try to approach Eliza Wishart without drowning in guilt (I know he thought about it often, but still...). Even if it wasn't him that killed her sister, what he did with Jasper Jones, was still pretty ... UGH.


In the end, I find the mystery behind Laura Wishart's death, (Damn, I keep thinking about Laura Palmer ... Twin Peaks, Twin, Peaks...)


The character I loved the most was Charlie's "bestie", Jeffrey Lu. Hard not to love the little goofball force-of-nature.
Without him this would be a pretty dark book. His "sassytime" jibes, his musings about "shooting fish in a barrel", his "arguments" with Charlie about the who's the greatest superhero (Superman or Batman), about the merits of mermaids boobies, about the life saving "Monkey Steals the Peach" move ... his courage, and his long awaited epic performance at the cricket game.... sweetened this story just the right amount.

When Charlie decides tho get THOSE peaches, Jeffrey offers his wisdom ....

“It’s the easiest move in the book. It’s called the Monkey Steals the Peach. Honest. It’s appropriate, right?”
“Jeffrey, you’re making this up....
What you do, if you’re attacked, is, you drop down on one knee and you slap your assailant fair in the jaffas with an open palm, like an uppercut, or an angry lawn bowler, and then you grab hold and rip the shit out of those peaches. Bang. Fight over. I’m serious, Chuck. People outside the martial arts community say it’s a cowardly act to go at the crackers. I say it’s smart.”
"Well, I say it won’t be necessary. I’m picking peaches from his tree, not between his legs. It will be fine. Trust me."

Loved him!


All-in-all, another great Aussie author.

Profile Image for _racheljane_.
48 reviews74 followers
February 7, 2017
This book touches on so many social issues with a storyline that unfolds beautifully. From a dramatic opening chapter the story, as seen through the eyes of Charlie Bucktin, peels back and exposes the life of a country town and reveals it's hidden dark secrets, and there are many.

Charlie's character is developed brilliantly. He grows, over a period of only several months, from an innocent 13-year-old to someone who sees more of life, and it's seedy side, than someone of his age should. Through all this Charlie grows into a young confident adolescent.

The main interaction occurs between Charlie and Jasper Jones, a young loner, ostracized by the townsfolk and branded as the local trouble maker - if something goes wrong in the town then Jones must have had a hand in it. These two are brought together by circumstance to deal with a dire event that changes the life of the town.

This is a captivating book with great character development. It addresses sad issues that aren't confined to small outback towns but issues universal in their occurrence and effect.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews.
1,878 reviews266 followers
July 17, 2017
Craig Silvey’s second novel, Jasper Jones, was written in 2009 and most recently reinvented through a big screen adaptation. It was also my pick for our monthly book club read. I have been interested in reading Silvey’s book for some years now, perhaps due to the comparisons drawn to Jasper Jones and a favourite book of mine, the classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. The link between To Kill a Mockingbird and Jasper Jones comes from the common themes the two books share. Both books feature small town prejudice and are narrated by a young adolescent protagonist. These comparisons are warranted and I can see how Jasper Jones has the makings of being a modern Australian classic. It is also a book that I feel should be placed on the high school curriculum.

Charlie Bucktin is the central narrator in Craig Silvey’s novel. Charlie is a thirteen year old boy, almost ahead of his years, aided by his great appreciation for all things literary. Charlie lives with his parents, in the small mining town of Corrigan, located in rural Western Australia. The book opens on a balmy night in 1965, as Charlie receives a night time visit from the town’s outcast, a sixteen year old indigenous boy, named Jasper Jones. Jasper insists that Charlie accompany him to the outskirts of town, where he has something important to show him. When they reach the scene, Charlie’s life is forever changed by what he witnesses. Hanging from a tree is the daughter of the town’s councillor, Laura Wishart. While Charlie wants to immediately call in for help from the police, Jasper urges Charlie not to, as he fears he will be blamed for the crime. Together, the two boys cut Laura down from the tree and bury her in a local lake, hoping her body will never surface. The two boys return home, taking a vow of secrecy over the discovery and removal of Laura’s body. Life returns to normal for the boys but Charlie is altered by what he has witnessed. The event opens Charlie’s eyes to other dark goings on in his local town, which is a town full of many secrets.

I read Jasper Jones for book club a few months ago now. I have to be honest and reveal to you that I have been sitting on the fence in my overall assessment of Jasper Jones. I think I built my expectations up for this book so much and my yearning for wanting to read this book for such a length of time, that I expected to be blown away completely. I finally feel like I am the right head space to give it the review it deserves and provide my verdict on the enigmatic Jasper Jones.

The dramatic opening piece, a body hanging from a tree, hooked me in immediately to Jasper Jones. This aspect of the narrative had me the most intrigued and formed my main motivation for following the story. I was desperate to find out how Laura ended up in that tree, for what reason and who did this to her. The process of peeling back and exposing the true fate of Laura was compelling. It involved some second guessing and theorising, which eventually was rewarded, when my suspicions were confirmed. It did evoke a deep sadness on behalf of Laura, Jasper Jones and her family.

Charlie is an original and compelling voice. Silvey demonstrates his skills as storyteller to balance out this awkward adolescent voice, with events that are often quite adult for a thirteen year old boy to have to contend with. At the heart of Jasper Jones is Charlie’s coming of age story, set against the backdrop of the terrible death of a young girl. Silvey’s solid characterisation extends past Charlie, to include Jasper Jones, Charlie’s friend Jeffrey and the adult figures, such as Charlie’s parents, who are all fully formed.

The tender relationship between Charlie and his best friend Jeffrey Lu, the son of immigrants from Vietnam, is one of the shining lights of this novel. The banter that runs between Charlie and Jeffrey is enjoyable to read. However, these two young boys seem ahead of their time, if the dialogue is anything to go by. One of the most pivotal scenes in the novel involves Jeffrey’s triumph on the cricket field, where he excels but is downcast due to his race. It was great to see the underdog win but in the same instance, it was terribly to sad to know that attitudes like those directed towards Jeffrey were prevalent not so long ago. I will admit that the focus on cricket in these areas of the narrative was a little too strong for me and I ended up feeling like one big cricket novice!

Silvey does a good job of incorporating themes which give the reader a solid commentary as to what life was like, particularly in relation to the typical social and moral codes that existed in Australia in the 1960’s. Bearing in mind this was the time where Australia was heavily committed to the Vietnam War, it was a difficult time for families such as the Lu’s. Immigrant Vietnamese families faced much blame and scorn in the face of the war. It was hard not to turn away when I read the passages where Jeffrey and the whole Lu family were ill-treated. Likewise, Silvey examines the racist treatment of the indigenous, through the character of Jasper Jones. Jasper is used as a scapegoat for many of the crimes that occur in the small town of Corrigan. His treatment was also appalling. Silvey highlights the various internal struggles of his characters with ease.

The darkness of Australian society, especially small town single mindedness, is put on the spotlight through Craig Silvey’s breakthrough second novel. It is offset by the lightness of Charlie, his friendship with Jeffrey, his loyalty to Jasper and his tentative steps towards first love. I think this is a book that will easily hold appeal to adults and younger readers alike, due to the strength of the adolescent narrator Charlie. It was the ideal book club pick, spurring plenty of worthy discussion points and gleaning a set of mixed responses. For interest purposes, in my own book club, the reactions to Jasper Jones were varied. A couple of readers did not wish to finish the book, or glossed over it. The reasons for this tended to be an inability to warm to any of the characters early on in the piece, or feeling a sense of disconnection from Silvey’s style of writing, with particular complications stemming from the overly mature voice of Charlie Bucktin. Then there was my obvious appreciation of this coming of age tale, which seemed to grow with time.
Profile Image for Lukas Anthony.
322 reviews358 followers
October 16, 2016
A sweet coming of age tale, that begins with a dead body.

I didn't know much about this novel. The cover proclaims it to be 'an Australian To Kill A Mockingbird' (which I've never actually read), but having spent the last two years living in Australia and feeling slightly nostalgic for my time there, I decided to give this one a go.

The novel itself has two different tones, on the one hand a sweet tale of unexpected friendship and first love, while the other deals with issues of racism, depression and the agony of small towns. It deals with the generational gaps and relationships between parents and their children whilst giving a well rounded look at both, and it does all this through the story of a missing local girl.

I very much enjoyed this book, it really knows how mix it's themes incredibly well. We have a new friendship blossoming because of a local tragedy, so it becomes one part sweet and innocent, yet another part dark and morbid. This is still YA, make no mistake, but it's incredibly well written and conceived YA. The three main characters are easily likeable and developed, and the main story comes to an unexpected and satisfying conclusion.

Did I love everything about this novel? Not completely. The main characters cricket obsessed best friend feels a bit like he's from a different novel, and the chapters relating to him playing cricket are some of the most skim worthy I've read in a while, but overall I didn't feel it enough to detract from my overall score. The rest of the novel more than makes up for it.

Poingant and heartfelt, I wish I'd read it in my teens. I feel it would have made a stronger impression and possibly become a favourite.

4 Stars.
Profile Image for Bianca.
1,023 reviews881 followers
August 28, 2017
Jasper Jones had potential, but it didn't live up to my expectations, as there were too many things that bugged me.

I love coming-of-age stories and Australian settings. I also love stories that deal with racism, small town mentalities. This novel was labeled (literally, on the cover) "an Australian To Kill a Mockingbird", so I went into it expecting greatness. The American masterpiece is mentioned several times in the book. And also a few other books by Mark Twain, Faulkner. Because you see, our narrator and protagonist, Charlie, who's thirteen going on fourteen, is a big reader. And a thinker apparently. He gets bullied for being smart, so he chooses to learn more fancy words. I liked that.

Still, certain things didn't sit well with me. To begin with, why does Jasper Jones want Charlie's help, when they weren't exactly friends? Jasper Jones is fourteen and he's considered the troublemaker of the small, mining town of Corrigan. Another thing that bothered me was how little Charlie was affected by the gruesome discovery of the body of a girl he knew, who was the sister of Eliza Wishart, the girl Charlie fancied.

Jasper Jones is a survivor, who pretty much raised himself, as his father is an alcoholic and doesn't care about him. He's probably not very well educated. Yet, he's philosophical about the human nature, about how insignificant human beings are in the universe, about geography and God: "I reckon people are fools to be claiming this or that for themselves, drawing lines and territory. Just like they're fools to be thinkin that some big bearded bastard gives two shits how much money they throw in a tin tray or if they eat fish on a Friday. That's all rubbish". Well, I know we have a problem, when even though I'm completely in agreement with the statements, I still have a hard time believing that these sort of thoughts came out of Jasper Jones or even Charlie. I could easily see Craig Silvey's hand in it and it wasn't the first time.

Charlie's best friend, Jeffrey Lu, the child of Vietnamese refugees, is one of the most endearing characters. His cheekiness, optimism and blind determination to make it into the school's cricket team were heart warming. I really enjoyed reading the parts when they were interacting and their banter was quite cute. Also, the adolescent love story was touching.

As for the writing, I thought it was uneven, brilliant at times and then clunky; even the beautiful passages felt too forced, especially since the narrator is a thirteen-year-old. The novel could have done with some editing and some cutting of some of the filler passages in the middle.

I am disappointed I didn't enjoy this more. This time, I'm pretty sure it had nothing to do with my mood. At least now I can go watch the movie.

I've read this book for the Australian Writers Challenge on Booklover Book Review Blog (www.bookloverbookreviews.com ; http://bookloverbookreviews.com/readi...)
Profile Image for Jülie ☼♄ .
481 reviews22 followers
March 8, 2015
Jasper Jones

Creative writing at its best.
Profound, Provocative and Perceptive!
Craig Silvey, you have a brilliant mind!

Do not start this book with any preconceived ideas of what it is about and you will be rewarded with a tour de force...like nothing you would have expected.
It is not a book to be picked apart for it's accomplishments in literary exactness, but rather, lauded for its remarkable ingenuity and presentation. Because life is like that, it doesn't always go by the rules. This is story telling at its vivid best.

I was up to page 29, and it had totally stopped me in my tracks. I was shocked into thinking to myself...how quickly things can change in our lives without warning, like one minute he [Charlie] is in his room in his little bubble reading a book, and the next thing you know his little bubble has been so shaken..like a snow globe..and now every thing is coming down on him....
....then I turn the page and it says: "How strange and abandoned and unsettled I am. Like a snow dome paperweight that's been shaken. There's a blizzard in my bubble. Everything in my world that was steady and sure and sturdy has been shaken out of place, and it's now drifting and swirling back down in a confetti of debris."
That's how well Craig Silvey has portrayed those emotions, that I was already feeling exactly what he was describing.

In that brief moment in time, Charlie's whole life has just changed, big time! He has unwittingly been cast into a whole new role of himself, and he will never be the same again.

This wonderful book is so much more than the sum of it parts!

The descriptions..wow! I feel like an observer who is present.

"Tongues were wagging. Aspersions were being cast like dandelion spores on hot gossipy winds"....

*Factitious: weaving between the factual and the fictionional.
*This is a word that Charlie invented to describe that circumstance in storytelling, of "weaving between the factual and the fictionional."

By far, the best book I have read in a long time. This is a book for everyone, if you love the written word, you will love this.

Love it! Love it! Loved it! I would not hesitate in recommending this brilliant book by Craig Silvey, to Everyone.
5★s +!
Profile Image for ambsreads.
656 reviews1,403 followers
November 5, 2016
Yet again, a possible good book ruined by the fact I was forced to study it for school. I swear, if you read a book for a school it takes all the fun out of it.

I see this book everywhere and it fills with the rage of 10 million firey storms.
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