Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Friday, April 20, 2012

Plot Summary:
According to the town of Corrigan, Jasper Jones is no good. In fact, the town is so convinced that Jasper is nothing but a liar and a thief, parents inform their children to never speak or socialize with Jasper because he is a bad influence. However, for Charlie, he knows for a fact that Jasper Jones is not what the town makes him out to be. In the middle of the night, Jasper comes to Charlie's home asking for his help. Although Charlie is not sure what is going on, he reluctantly agrees to follow Jasper into the Bush. What Charlie witnesses that night, will not only haunt him, forever, but will force him into an impossible situation. On the other hand, the situation presents itself with a unique opportunity. Like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Charlie agrees to help Jasper uncover the mystery of what happened that night and to prevent a possible false imprisonment of Jasper Jones. Charlie has Jasper's fate in the palm of his hand, just like Atticus Finch had Tom Robinson's fate in his hands; however, the enemy is not just the town or the police, but Mad Jack (the most notorious man in town) as well. In this story, Charlie is not only re-living the story of his favorite story, To Kill a Mockingbird, he has to get to the bottom to this horrific mystery before an innocent boy is condemned for a crime he didn't commit.

Critical Evaluation:
Jasper Jones is an incredibly cleaver story about two teens from very different backgrounds. Not only do they come from different worlds, they are brought together by a force that is beyond their control. Although Charlie is nothing like Jasper, they both share a mutual admiration about each other; Jasper is a down-to-earth and honest person and Charlie is smart and a good person. Granted they don't know each other very well, the death of their classmate drives them to work together, which is based on unwavering trust of one another. Although the story shares a few similarities to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Silvey has created a tale that is very original and an excellent tribute to the classic story. Honestly, the moment I opened this book, I could not put it down! Silvey immediately takes the reader into the heart of the story and, like Charlie, gives them a sort of baptism by fire where the injustices and the reality of this world are thrown at them without any warning.  Set during the Vietnam War, the backwardness of this town is revealed through the racial tensions towards anyone who isn't Australian;  the treatment of Charlie's best friend, Jeffrey, and Jasper convey this behavior perfectly.  In fact, race is a huge underlying factor as to why things in Corrigan aren't right at all, which also parallels the world of Scout Finch. Moreover, the very idea of things go awry immediately sends the citizens pointing fingers rather than admitting there is a serious problem; people prefer to live int their own worlds without noticing that the real world is changing. Although this story took place more than thirty years ago, it's literally heart wrenching to know that this kind of behavior still exists in our world despite the advances that have been made to make the world a better place. This is a great book to utilize in a dialogue with teens in regards to injustice and prejudice. This book is very meaty so it is not a quick read, but exhilarating none the less. Reader may have trouble with the Australian lingo, but they can get passed it easily. I highly recommend that everyone, teens or adult, should read this book.

Information about the Author:
According to his website, Craig Silvey was born and raised in Australia in 1982. He grew up in Dwellingup on an orchard and currently lives in Fremantle. His first novel, Rhubarb, earned him the title of "Best Young Novelist" in the Sydney Times and was selected by the Perth International Arts Festival as the inaugural book in the the "One Book" series. Silvey also wrote a children's book called The World According to Warren, which is based on one of his characters in Ruhbarb, which earned him a place in the Australian national "Books Alive" campaign. Jasper Jones is his second novel and he is also a singer/songwriter for the indie band The Nancy Sikes.

Genre:
Teen Mystery

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Jasper Jones:

Awards & Recognition:
  • Starred Review Kirkus review (3/11/2011) 
  • Starred Review Bulletin of Center of Children's Books (4/1/2011)
  • Starred Review Horn Book Magazine (5/1/2011)
  • Starred Review School Library Journal (6/1/2011)

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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