Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey is both a mystery and a coming of age story set in 1965. In Corrigan, a small mining town in Western Australia, Jasper Jones is public enemy number one. Jasper’s mother is dead and his father hasn’t been sober enough to look after him in years. If being an orphan isn’t bad enough, Jasper’s mother was of Australian Aboriginal descent giving Corrigan even more reason to suspect and fear him. By contrast, Charlie Bucktin is a bookish 13 year old looking for a way to fit in at school and home.
Then one early summer night Jasper wakes Charlie and beckons him to follow. Even though he’s scared and a little confused about what Jasper could need him for, Charlie wants to please Jasper who’s a few years older. After a trek into a part of the forest where Charlie’s never been before, they finally stop in a lonely hollow. As they stand in there catching their breath Charlie almost doesn’t notice the beaten, hanging body of Laura Wishart. Now he knows why Jasper has brought him here…
Throughout the hot summer Jasper and Charlie search for clues about what happened to Laura. As they search they learn a lot about their small town, its prejudice, and its cruelty, but most importantly they learn to trust each other.
Reviewed by Brooke, CLP-Southside