This is one of those books I almost didn’t read because the gushing had become close to overbearing (I tend to the Public Enemy way of responding to this sort of thing: don’t believe the hype). I mean really, how good can a book be? … Well, of course, we all know the answer to that: pretty bloody good. But was this book?
Let’s face it, any story full of banter between friends, cricket-talk and description, writing and book talk, and a sound argument for why Batman is the greatest superhero ever is going to be a book for me. Fill it with sensitive, funny, conflicted, awkward, brave, smart, endearing teenage-boy characters and I’m all over it.
I love Craig Silvey’s writing because I love reading good dialogue and there is a lot of that in this book. It’s strong, funny, informs us of the characters and progresses the plot. I adore the way Jeffrey and Charlie converse.
When reading Jasper Jones I could smell the eucalyptus, hear the cicadas and taste the dust in the back of my throat. Maybe because I was far from home when reading it I was more attuned to these aromas of Australiana wafting through the novel, but I suspect it was more to do with Mr Silvey’s writing.
I’m a little bit in love with all three of the boy-characters, for different reasons. Charlie for his brain and slight awkwardness, for his phobias and uncontrollable adolescent reactions; Jeffrey for his enthusiasm, bravery and sport-loving; Jasper for his strong-silent-type qualities, for his survival… plus he sounds pretty hot. Jeffrey is certainly my favourite – he’s fantastic, hilarious, a gem of a character. I adore him. Though of course he prefers Superman, which is where I must side with Charlie…
I devoured this book in three sittings, which for me is frickin’ fast. Backpackering in Nova Scotia, I had no interest in those pastimes the young kids like to participate in during the evening hours. Pub crawl? Oh no, I have a book to read.
I’m glad in the end that I missed reading Jasper Jones when everyone else – including my book group – was reading it. Sometimes when a book is buzzing you can get caught up in everyone else’s enthusiasm and in some ways, that can deplete your individual enjoyment of it. You have to cast the experience within the group (you remember who liked it and didn’t, forget whether your favourite bit was yours or someone else’s). I now understand their enthusiasm, but am secretly thrilled that I had the Jasper Jones experience to myself.
If you haven’t read it, go and get yourself a copy. Pronto.
Canadian depository: Bookshelf at Charlottetown Backpackers Inn, Prince Edward Island.