Jasper Jones

Craig Silvey, Author
Craig Silvey, Knopf, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-375-86666-1
Reviewed on: 02/07/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
Open Ebook - 199 pages - 978-0-375-89678-1
Library Binding - 312 pages - 978-0-375-96666-8
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4070-5968-6
Open Ebook - 136 pages - 978-1-299-05995-5
Paperback - 299 pages - 978-0-09-953754-0
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-375-86627-2
Hardcover - 405 pages - 978-1-74269-037-7
Compact Disc - 978-0-449-01394-6
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-449-01397-7
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Australian author Silvey wears his influences (notably To Kill a Mockingbird) a little too obviously on his sleeve in a novel about crime, race, and growing up in a 1960s Australian mining town. Charlie, 13, is woken up on a hot summer night by teenage outcast Jasper, who wants to show him something secret. That secret turns out to be the dead body of Laura Wishart, Jasper's occasional paramour and the older sister of Charlie's own crush, Eliza. The boys, assuming that Jasper will be blamed, hide the body, and Laura's disappearance combines with the boys' guilt and lies to create an ongoing spiral of stress. The town of Corrigan is rife with racism, which is directed mainly at the half-aboriginal Jasper and Charlie's Vietnamese best friend, Jeffrey. The banter between Jeffrey and Charlie drives the novel's lighter scenes, but can distract, feeling more like Tarantinoesque pop culture asides than anything else. Still, when Silvey, making his U.S. debut, focuses on the town's ugly underbelly, as well as the troubles in Charlie's family, the novel is gripping enough to overcome its weaknesses. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
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