JASPER JONES, by Craig Silvey
This book places itself clearly between the writing of Harper Lee (To Kill a Mocking Bird) and JD Salinger (Catcher in the Rye). At times the allusions to these two iconic texts are a bit too obvious and pushy. However, this book is actually fascinating in its presentation of adolescence and life in small town, rural Australia. More interesting than the allusions to the books above, is the subtle interplay of teenage angst and the desire to be a “hero” or “superhero”. This undercurrent is where the text’s strength lies. In short, the moral of the story seems to be that even the most ordinary person can be a hero or do heroic things. Without doubt, however, the highlight of this book is the relationship between the protagonist and his friend Jeffrey. Their dialogue is littered with funny exchanges and various puns which belie both their ages and their intelligence. This was a surprisingly enjoyable read.
As a note: for those who have not had the pleasure or reading either Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye or Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, this should not deter you from reading Jasper Jones. Lack of knowledge of these texts will not detract from your enjoyment of this quirky novel.