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Published July 26th 2018
An Australian "To Kill A Mockingbird"
Photo courtesy Booktopia
Craig Silvey has crafted a compelling story based on a friendship between two teenage boys, Jasper Jones and Charlie Buckton, in the Australian rural town of Corrigan. It is not surprising that Jasper Jones, the novel, was awarded 2010 ABIA Book of the Year and shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Book of the Year Award 2009.
Jasper seeks out Charlie when he accidentally stumbles across the gruesome discovery of the body of his girlfriend, Laura Wishart in a grassy grove. With a history of petty theft, a "half cast aborigine" and broadly considered to be "no good", Jasper is under no illusion that he would be a prime suspect for the crime. He enlists the help of bookish, amateur writer Charlie, to conceal her remains and keep Laura's death a secret until they can uncover the real killer. They believe that the reclusive Mad Jack Lionel is the actual perpetrator but seek evidence to prove their hunch.
Until then, the town assumes that Laura has run away or been kidnapped (with no trace of her body) which even the police and investigators fail to uncover.
During this time, we come to meet Charlie's best friend, the intelligent, confident, brash and likeable cricket-obsessed Jeffrey Lu a child of Vietnamese decent whose family is ridiculed and set upon by members of the town as well as Eliza Wishart, Laura's sister. Charlie awkwardly shares with us his obvious attraction to Eliza with whom he must keep from her sister's' whereabouts.
Jasper Jones is a coming of age piece and a minefield of social observation with themes of:
Unlikely bonds and friendships
The novel has been adapted to a play as well as a film starring Hugo Weaving and Toni Colette.
It is a wonderful read and a real page-turner which assembles a rich mix of characters in an intriguing scenario. The Monthly describes it as "An Australian To Kill a Mockingbird" and this is an accurate comparison. Well worth making Jasper Jones your next literary companion.