Welcome to Forgotten Fridays. This mission of this feature is, twice a month, to review books that are more than a year old. And we review them TOGETHER! Most reviews have minor spoilers because it is hard to block them out in a back and forth dialogue about a book. So keep that in mind when reading, though we do try to not mention anything that would ruin a book for anyone.
This week Kara and Lyn tackle Kara’s pick: Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey!
Charlie Bucktin, a bookish thirteen 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.
Kara: I’ve wanted to read Jasper Jones ever since I heard about in on Goodreads and some of my favorite Aussie reviewers were raving about it. After finishing it, I’m still debating how I feel. There was lots of good here, but I also found some of it super boring and tough to get through due to some of the language used. How do you feel, Lyn?
Lyn: I didn’t rate this when I finished last night because I had the same reaction. Some of the parts were wonderful, but some other parts never really fit. I did like that this book followed Jellicoe Road. I take it that Aussies have a lot of issues with their parents? Anyways, I have to admit I never saw the ending coming, and for the generic lost boy formula, it was executed with a lot of grace and tact.
Kara: Okay, there are a number of things I want to touch on while we talk this out. I have a lot of FEEEEELINNGSSS, which is rare because I never usually have this with Forgotten Friday books. Let’s start with the ending since you already touched on it, Lyn. I LOVEEED IT. If the entire book had gone that way I would have been in love with it all the way. I loved the humor with the whole peach tree thing, I loved the way it ended up being solved, and I loved the scene the book ended with. I thought it was poetic, bittersweet, and captured the whole feeling of the book perfectly. Thoughts?
Lyn: The peach tree was PERFECT, and very touching. I like the symbolism of the peach, how revered they are. The secret was kindness, not bravery or sneakiness. It wasn’t a sappy, feel good ending, but it was a touching, well-deserved ending. My biggest concern was for Jack, I have to admit, so the ending brought me some relief. I can’t stand the idea of sad seniors who have no one caring for them. It breaks my heart. It hurts in the worst way, so even though this book is about how horrible people can be towards one another, it was the small acts of kindness that won me over.
Kara: Yeah, totally agree. I was very close with my grandparents, so anytime there is a senior in the book, I get overly attached even if the author doesn’t mean me to.
I guess I want to talk about technical things now? Like how long the book took to get going? All the meaningless dialogue between Charlie and Jeffrey. Scene after scene I did not give a shit about. I don’t understand how cricket works so there was another thing I didn’t care about, though that was not the author’s fault. There was so much telling, hardly any showing, and I know this author has been praised for that but I am confused because part of it worked but the other part was a slog to get through. And then there was the language. I realize this book was set during the Vietnam War, and I realize boys pretty much do talk that way, but it bothered me regardless. And by language, I mean the words queer and retard. Used way too much, in my opinion. It just didn’t add anything to the book. And I always have to look at whether I feel it adds realism to the book and I just don’t know if it was necessary. I am on the fence with all of that. For the record though, I am not deduction any stars for the language as I realize it’s personal preference.
Lyn: The insults were way over the top. It was overly excessive and it drowned out some of the more positive aspects. The sports talk bored the CRAP out of me. I had, like, NO FREAKING CLUE what was going on. I dislike most sports books, and I was ready for that part to be over. I also thought the first chapter was way too long. There were some spots that were hyper-focused upon, and it was the parts that I didn’t care to read. I think that was a big issue I faced. The parts I enjoyed were glossed over, while some other sections went on way too long.
However, I will take a moment to point out that I loved the Batman/Superman argument. I 100% agree with Charlie.
Kara: Oh yeah. I am totally Team Batman all the way. I’ve always thought Superman was a huge dork. And yeah, I agree with your other points as well. Some of this book was just a slog for me, unfortunately. And that’s a shame because I really loved the rest of it. I thought the romance was super sweet and I thought Charlie’s crush on Eliza was adorably realistic. I loved Jasper but For a while there I wasn’t sure whether he could be trusted or not, which I loved. I adore when books keep me guessing. Lyn, is there anything you want to talk about? I feel like I am controlling the direction of this and I want to give you the floor if you want it.
Lyn: The crush – ADORABLE!
Can I say that Jasper’s backstory was downright heartbreaking. I never, EVER saw that coming. The element of surprise kept dragging me back in. I usually see things coming, but this book was a total shock the entire time. I really can’t recall the last time that a book kept taking me by surprise. Even Laura’s story was a complete shock to my system. Did you find that everything surprised you?
Kara: Yeahhhh. Glad you brought that up. I forget about things easily. Laura’s backstory. I KNEW there had to be something there and sexual/physical abuse was in the back of my mind the entire time. But not because I had figured out how she died, but because I was looking for a murderer in every character. So I thought it had to be something with her family.
Lyn: That was actually a nice twist – I suspected everyone as well! I kept thinking, “Well, THIS person did it because x, y and z! So it HAS to be them!” The suspense was a serious hook in the novel!
Kara: Yeah, I loved the plot twists as well. I pretty much didn’t see any of it coming. I had my suspicions, but I wasn’t anywhere close to figuring it out. I thought that was pretty brilliant. I Loved the atmosphere and setting as well. Is there anything else you want to touch on? Because I think I am pretty much done.
Lyn: I am. So, final rating?
Kara: For me, it’s a 3.5. You?
Lyn: Same for me. 3.5.
Kara: Haha, perfect! We are doing Anna and the French Kiss next, right?
Lyn: Yes! Bekka and I are doing it together! Come join us!!
Kara: I will join in on the chat, but I already read it a couple years back and I don’t wanna reread it. 😛