A surprisingly powerful book. I read this book a few years ago and for some reason I didn’t enjoy it much. However I had some friends read it recently and tell me how much they enjoyed it, so I figured I should read it again. And yes, I enjoyed it a lot more this time. I have no idea why I didn’t like it last time, my only reason might have been how detailed and wordy it is.
The book focuses on a small town in Western Australia and specifically on two teenagers – Jasper Jones and Charlie Bucktin. The story begins with Jasper knocking on Charlie’s window in the middle of the night asking for help. He leads Charlie to his hideout clearing in the bush where there is a horrible discovery. Due to Jasper being of mixed ethnicity, he is generally blamed for everything in the town and is heavily discriminated against. So he asks for Charlie to help him as he knows no one will believe he is innocent.
So together, they embark on a mission to find out who the criminal is. Jasper trying to prevent his name being further sullied and Charlie living with the horror of the discovery. Through the new formed friendship between Charlie and Jasper, Charlie begins to discover how horribly racist his town is, and how no one seems to stand up for anyone. Not only is he dealing with the “heavy brick” of the discovery, but his eyes are opening to the injustices carried out in his town towards people of different ethnicity. This is also highlighted with his best friend Jeremy who is Vietnamese. He sees how Jeremy is never given a fair go – case in point being how skilled he is with cricket, but is never allowed to play, and even the coach endorses his players treating Jeremy with disdain.
Charlie also lives with his parents, his mother who is abusive and his father who just sits back and takes it all, not defending Charlie or standing up for himself.
The book is a coming of age story, with great character developments and relationships. I give this book 4 stars. My only criticism is how wordy and detailed it can get, necessary for the adolescent narrative but not appreciated by me.