Title: Jasper Jones
Author: Craig Silvey
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
About the book: When Charlie Bucktin, a nerdy bookworm of 13, is woken by Jasper Jones, the outcast in their mining town of Corrigan, his whole life changes.
When they discover a dead body, Charlie carries the secret like a brick, not daring to tell anyone for fear of punishment. The story is set in the 1960s and outlines what happens after this event.
What I thought: I think that this is one of the best books I’ve ever read because it is so well-written and the story captures so many elements of everyday life mixed with a horrible tragedy.
I particularly like the character of Charlie’s best friend Jeffrey, and the conversations that the two boys have. Some of the themes talked about in the book include coming of age, secrets, friendship, knowing who to trust, perception and judgement.
I think this book is probably best suited to readers of 14+ as it contains some disturbing thoughts and heavy themes. It is one of the best books of all time.
Buy Jasper Jones here.
Title: The Outsiders
Author: S. E. Hinton
Publisher: Puffin Modern Classics
About the book: The Socs are the rich kids, the Greasers are from the poor side of town. The Socs’s idea of having a good time is beating up greasers like Ponyboy, who lives with his two brothers. Ponyboy knows what to expect and knows he can count on his brothers and friends, but one night things go too far.
What I thought: Even though this book was written in 1967, it is still a great book that I would recommend to everyone. It’s about gangs in the 1960s and I could really connect to the characters because they felt so real.
I really liked how well it was written and how even in the darkest of scenes there was still humour. I was surprised to learn that S.E. Hinton was only 17 when this book was published.
I would recommend this book for kids 12+ because it has some grown-up themes, violence, some coarse language and sad scenes.
Buy The Outsiders here.
Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
About the book: Set in Nazi Germany, this is a beautiful but haunting story.
Beside her brother’s grave, young Liesel Meminger picks up one, single, life-changing object. A book: ‘The Grave Digger’s Handbook’. This is her first act of book thievery and definitely not her last.
Stealing from Nazi book burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library and anywhere else she comes across books, Liesel goes to extreme heights to read.
What I thought: I really enjoyed the way this book was written. It made me feel like I was actually in the story. The way it was narrated was mysterious, which made it even more interesting.
I recommend it for ages 12+, and I think you would like this if you like the author Jackie French, or any historical fiction set in this era.