Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Jasper Jones by Craig Sylvie
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.
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
I can see why his work is compared to that of Zusak’s. It’s got the same feel to it… quiet, sad, bitter, unfair, angry, and funny a lot of the time too. But it was never a simple story, Charlie’s experience with Jasper, Jasper’s history with the town, even Jeffrey and his family’s part of it all had me feeling… something. Then eventually Charlie and Eliza.
There’s a sad truth to what most of they had to say too. It’s just that Jasper with a longer time with things seemed to be more matter of fact about it all. Contrasted to his reception, Charlie’s disgust, anger was clearly felt. Charlie wondering about the town itself and how everyone stood by, how everyone knew just a bit of someone else’s business but still let things be.. all felt quite curious to me. And eventually, when he was angry, so was I. Then when he was confused, so was I. Their feelings are conveyed quite clearly… and I felt every one of them.
It’s emotion filled; in turns quiet, then sad, then confusing, and only a few times over the top… but it all had me riveted. Especially, with each character, a story of his own, it was interesting to see each story plod along (slowly, or quickly, depending on who the focus was) toward that quietly emotional end. Of course not one of them are ‘good/perfect.’ Some try to do what they think is right, others just try to get by. Then there were those disappointments; and others who of course, were delightful surprises. All their back stories got tied together neatly later though.
You’d think it simple,but with all those emotions swirling about, well, ‘twas unlikely: unfair, sweet, funny and everything else. And even if I did find the start a bit odd (that he’d just agree to do something on someone’s say so,) everything: their back story, the events… all eventually came together quite well for me in the end.
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