A to Z Book Review: Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
My letter “J” pick for the A to Z book challenge was Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey. I almost don’t know where to begin with this one – there’s just so much to unpack.
Set in a small rural Australian town in the 1960’s, we begin with our protagonist, thirteen year-old Charlie Bucktin, being paid a late-night visit by classmate (and school outcast due to his aboriginal heritage), Jasper Jones. Jasper begs Charlie to come with him, only to reveal the dead body of a missing local girl, Laura. Jasper is terrified he will be blamed for the girl’s murder, as the local police chief is the town bully and definitely has it out for Jasper.
Jasper convinces Charlie to help him hide the body while they try to solve the murder themselves, and from there, we meet the other players in the small town, and layers of secrets unravel to the unexpected conclusion of the drama.
For all the twists and turns (there were a LOT of them) in the plot, this story is firmly focused on its characters, and that was where it fell a little short for me. The relationship between Charlie and his best friend, a young Vietnamese boy who also feels the brunt of the town’s prejudice – was outstandingly portrayed. Their banter was natural and engaging and I loved their scenes together, but the key relationship between Charlie and Jasper just never quite hit the mark for me. Considering the depth of the secret between them, the stakes just didn’t lend enough conflict and tension to their interactions like I craved. Likewise with Charlie’s burgeoning romance with Laura’s younger sister, Eliza, and Charlie’s own parents – who came across a bit one-dimensional.
Overall, an intriguing read that kept me guessing but wishing for more. Three stars.