Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey, read by Humphrey Bower
A Talking Book review by Scotia Tracey
Late on a hot summer night in 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan.
Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress. Jasper takes him to his secret glade in the bush, and it’s here that Charlie bears witness to 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 as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother; falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu.
And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse.
Brilliantly narrated by Humphrey Bower, I was swept back into being a teenager in a country town very similar to Corrigan. Humphrey makes you believe you are listening to each of the varied, complex characters – from a gawky boy, an old isolated man and an Asian immigrant. He captured the youth and coming of age of the main characters, making them realistic, relatable and mostly lovable. The story is tragic, funny, warm and witty.
This story is available at the Lithgow Library Learning Centre in print and as an audio book. If you haven’t listened to a Humphrey Bower narrated story – do yourself a favour and give this one a go!