I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
A few months ago, I accidentally joined a book club (long story).
The first book chosen was Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey. Immediately, at least a couple of objections sprung to my mind:
1. Australian fiction and I don't have a harmonious track record.
2. Generally, literary fiction is not my jam.
3. No way could I read this 3 months before the club meeting and have any hope of remembering it, especially since I totally planned on skimming it (see 1 & 2, above).
So, I procrastinated. I procrastinated BIG. TIME. I didn't buy the book until Wednesday, and as I was in the midst of finishing up my Dewey bonus rolls, I refused to start this one until they were all done. (I was also hoping I could use this for a monopoly space - kid on cover, woot!)
Which means I started it last night at 10pm. Bookclub met today at 2. Now, this wasn't going to be a problem, because I was totally going to skim read it. Then I read the first page. Boy did that first page suck me in. So did the second, and the third, and the fourth and OMG IT'S 2AM!!!
I woke up at 8 and plowed through the entire thing by 1pm (taking a "break", and I use that term loosely, to ferry all three cats to the vet for annual appointments - something I cannot recommend).
It was good. Seriously, it was really damn good. The Australian fiction I've been subjected to so far have all had one thing in common: a thread of cruelty that wove subtlety or not so subtley through the narrative. Jasper Jones is not an exception, which is why I'd hesitate to call it a YA read. There are some very confronting scenes and descriptions of abuse, violence, and racial hate crimes. It might be a good fit for some, but not all, teens.
This common thread is what turns me off trying new Aussie fiction, but here it's offset by the humour and genuine innocence of Charlie, and his banter with his best friend, Jeffry Lu, who often steals the scenes from Charlie by dint of his sheer equanimity. Some of the banter gets tedious, but only because it's exactly the tedious banter of just about any two 13-year-old boys.
There's a mystery plot beneath all the other issues facing Charlie and it was tragic; its final solution even more so. There's not a lot of winning for the good guys here, but the story does end on a note of hope, if not complete happiness.
Most of all, the writing was just incredibly engaging, with a minimum of Aussie slang and/or vernacular. If you can find this one, read the first couple of pages - you might be as pleasantly surprised as I was.
Total pages: 397
$ earned: 3.00