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Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Reviewed by Cath Shaw, Berkelouw Paddington

I’ve been watching sales of Jasper Jones over the past two years with interest. Very late one night (we close at midnight on weekends) a breathless, long-haired, skateboarding teenager galloped into the shop and asked for a copy. He said, “I’ve already read it, and I don’t normally read books and I want to buy it for my mate, ‘cause he doesn’t read either but it’s a really good book”.

And after finishing it myself I can certainly concur.

It is what I call a creeper, beginning slowly, a couple of sales a week, and then suddenly I look now and see an empty space every five days or so where we have sold out.

This is an extremely readable book. The accolades it has garnered are indeed impressive and far too many to record here, but for the interested they are fully listed on the Allen and Unwin website. They include ABIA Book of the Year, Winner of the Booksellers Choice Awards and Australian Independent Booksellers Award. It was also short listed for the Miles Franklin Award.

Young teenager Charlie Bucktin, woken in the middle of the night by the intriguing, half indigenous Jasper Jones, is led to a gruesome discovery, a secret burden that only the two of them will carry for the summer. The plot may be a little familiar but it is the dialogue that is the shining light of this novel. Silvey has a gift for utterly realistic conversation that I have rarely seen.

Part crime, part coming of age and part romance, Jasper Jones deals with racism in a way that many of us who have spent time in regional areas are familiar with. It also addresses the hotbed of political uncertainty that was prevalent in Australian society during the Vietnam War.

But this book is also about cricket. 

Back when the Australian team were good and breaking records for the right reasons.

The Monthly has labeled Jasper Jones as an ‘Australian To Kill A Mockingbird’ which I think is a little too kind, but that is not to say it is not a rip-roaring Aussie Yarn.

Take a look at the video trailer below.

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Jasper Jones
Silvey Craig