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Jasper Jones is a 2009 novel by Fremantle-based writer Craig Silvey. It has won and been shortlisted for several major awards, and in 2012 was selected by the University of Canberra as its inaugural UC Book of the Year for 2013.
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Protagonist Charlie Bucktin is a thirteen-year-old boy living in the rural fictional mining town of Corrigan in Western Australia. His character reflects that he is somewhat socially awkward, being uncoordinated in a town that places high value in sporting ability. He is a relatively intelligent boy – a trait which causes other students to resent him. His best friend is Jeffrey Lu, a Vietnamese boy who, along with his parents, experiences racial discrimination throughout the novel. On a summer evening in 1965, Charlie has a late night unexpected visit by fourteen-year-old Jasper Jones, an outcast in Corrigan due to his mixed White-Aboriginal heritage and rebellious lifestyle. Jasper takes Charlie to his secret glade in the bush where Charlie finds the shire president's daughter, Laura Wishart, hanging from a branch. Jasper explains to Charlie that Laura and him were close and that he suspects that Mad Jack Lionel of killing Laura and asks Charlie to assist him in proving Lionel guilty.
Charlie Bucktin: The thirteen-year-old-protagonist and narrator of the novel. He is intellectual rather than athletic. This makes him somewhat of an outsider in Corrigan, where sporting ability is highly valued. He aspires to become a writer in the future, and reads notable books during the course of the novel, including Pudd'nhead Wilson and To Kill A Mockingbird. These books are the source of much of Charlie's inspiration and guidance. Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird is a father figure whom Charlie looks up to for support and encouragement when times get difficult in the struggle of Jasper's tangled web which Charlie is an unwilling witness to.
Jasper Jones: Half Aboriginal and half white, Jasper is an outcast in Corrigan. He is fourteen, but Charlie states that Jasper looks much older. He is the town's scapegoat, and the first name to be blamed for any kind of trouble. He hence has a bad reputation, but often is blamed for crimes he does not commit. Jasper's father is physically abusive and suffers from an addiction to alcohol. This prompts Jasper to steal for food, as there is no money left in the house. Jasper's mother died when he was young, and Jasper tells Charlie he does not remember anything about her. Jasper regularly smokes cigarettes and drinks alcohol.
Eliza Wishart: Charlie's romantic interest, Eliza is described as intelligent and slightly resembling Audrey Hepburn. She is the younger sister of Laura Wishart.
Laura Wishart: Eliza's older sister and Jasper Jones' love interest.
Jeffrey Lu: Charlie's best friend. He is a year younger than Charlie but has skipped a year in school because of his intellect. Charlie admits that Jeffrey is smarter than he is. Because of his Vietnamese heritage, Jeffrey often experiences racial discrimination. However Charlie describes him as unflappable, and Jeffrey seemingly takes the abuse and prejudice in good humour.
Awards and Nominations
- Michael L. Printz Honor Award, 2012 
- Indie Book of the Year Award, 2009: Overall Winner and Fiction Winner.
- Western Australian Premier's Book Awards, 2009: Winner for Fiction
- ABIA, 2010: Book of the Year, and Literary Fiction of the Year
- Miles Franklin Literary Award, 2010: Shortlisted
- New South Wales Premier's Literary Award Christina Stead Prize for fiction, 2010: Shortlisted.
- Victorian Premier's Literary Awards Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction, 2010: Shortlisted
- International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, 2011: Shortlisted.