Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 10 Up-A rap on the window awakens 13-year-old Charlie Bucktin. He's startled to find Jasper Jones, the bad boy of his small Australian town, frantic and in need of his help. Charlie follows Jasper into the night and is led to the battered body of Laura Wishart, hanging from the noose of a eucalyptus tree. Jasper is desperate to cut Laura down as the rope around her neck belongs to him. Convinced of Jasper's innocence, Charlie helps submerge Laura's body in a river and the boys vow to find Laura's killer. Set in the 1960s during the Vietnam War, Craig Silvey's novel (Knopf, 2011) perfectly captures the time period. Charlie's small town reacts with fear at Laura's disappearance and the bigotry simmering just below the surface of the town erupts into violence. Matt Cowlrick gives each character a unique voice and his pacing is impeccable. Strong language and mature content make this appropriate for older teens.-Tricia Melgaard, formerly Broken Arrow Public Schools, Tulsa, OK (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
To 13-year-old Charlie Bucktin, Jasper Jones is nothing but an outcast, a stranger. Then, in the middle of the night, Jasper turns up at Charlie's bedroom window and leads him to the hanging body of a dead girl, the daughter of the shire president in their small Australian town. Unless Charlie helps him, Jasper will be blamed for the murder. What follows is equal parts mystery, coming-of-age story, and sophisticated literary novel. Right up to the hard, satisfying ending, the first-person, immediate, present-tense account offers an authentically adolescent perspective of the racist, patriotic turmoil of the 1970s as it affected small-town life. Silvey balances the predominant gravity with moments of lightness in the awkward fumbling of first love and the profane, hilarious banter that defines Charlie's relationship with his new best friend. Charlie is an avid reader, and in his worldview, shaped by Atticus Finch and Puddn'Head Wilson, and his account of events, young readers will experience how powerful stories help to clarify life.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2010 Booklist
Horn Book Review
In this Australian import, Jasper Jones -- town outcast, juvenile delinquent, and general scapegoat -- shows up at thirteen-year-old Charlie's window one night and takes him to a grove along the riverbank, the scene of the apparent murder of the daughter of the shire president. Convinced of Jasper's innocence, Charlie helps him hide the body until the two boys can find the murderer and bring him to justice. It's a heavy burden for Charlie to bear as he courts the sister of the dead girl, chafes at the racism his Vietnamese best friend encounters, and witnesses the deterioration of his parents' marriage. As secrets come rattling out of the closet, the characters are forced to make difficult choices in the satisfying resolution to this gothic-flavored coming-of-age tale. The mood and atmosphere of the 1960s small-town Australian setting is perfectly realized -- suspenseful, menacing, and claustrophobic -- with issues of race and class boiling just below the surface. Smart, sensible, and likable, Charlie is drawn with a deft hand, and his first-person narration astutely captures not only a sociopolitical cross-section of his community but his tumultuous family situation and internal life as well. jonathan hunt (c) Copyright 2011. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
(Fiction. 12 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.