Jasper Jones starts with a bang. Charlie Bucktin is at home in bed when Jasper, a neighborhood outcast and older boy, taps on his window asking for help.
Jasper Jones is Craig Silvey’s second novel. 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.