Late on a hot summer night in 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of 13, 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 through town and 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.
We had a few conflicting ideas about the merits of Jasper Jones. The majority loved the story concept, setting and characters, finding much to discuss about the racial intolerance of small communities. Not just here in Australia, but throughout the world and its history.
We were left with many question though, and Mary in particular was a little frustrated with some of the short-sighted ignorance portrayed within the community.
Could something like this happen today? Again, we were a little divided here with opinions in both camps. A good sign that this book is open to much deliberation, something our group always enjoys.
Vanessa was busy this month and only got through two chapters, but she is keen to finish and will continue to form her own views on the story’s climax.
Sandra declared that she ‘has already raised three teenage boys and is not particularly keen to read about them!’ Fair enough Sandra, there is nothing more refreshing than an honest opinion!