Charlie Bucktin, a bookish 13-year-old, is startled one summer night by an urgent knock on his bedroom window. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in their small mining town, and he has come to ask for Charlie's help. Terribly afraid but desperate to impress, Charlie follows him into the night.
Jasper takes him to his secret glade, where Charlie witnesses 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.
He locks horns with his tempestuous mother, falls nervously in love, and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.
"The author’s keen ear for dialogue is evident in the humorous verbal sparring between Charlie and Jeffrey, typical of smart 13-year-old boys....A richly rewarding exploration of truth and lies by a masterful storyteller." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Silvey’s sure-footed, evocative prose, intelligent humor, and careful plot structuring may well ensure this Aussie import lasting status." (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books)
"The mood and atmosphere of the 1960s small-town Australian setting is perfectly realized - suspenseful, menacing, and claustrophobic - with issues of race and class boiling just below the surface." (The Horn Book Magazine)
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Good teen fiction
Heartfelt teen murder-mystery
The main character's mention of To Kill a Mockingbird draws an obvious parallel to this novel.
- Susan Miles