Craig Silvey’s engrossing 2009 novel Jasper Jones became an instant Australian literary classic and has now inspired both a successful stage adaptation and a soon-to-be-released film.
The best-selling book is often hailed as Australia’s To Kill a Mockingbird for exploring issues of racism and violence through the intelligent yet innocent eyes of its 14-year-old narrator, Charlie Bucktin.
Growing up in a small country town in 1965, Charlie’s uneventful life is turned on its head when the town outcast, an Indigenous boy named Jasper Jones, appears at his window begging him for help.
Jasper has found the dead body of local girl Laura Wishart, beaten, bruised and hanging from a tree. Terrified he will be blamed for her death, Jasper enlists Charlie to help find the true killer.
The two boys must keep their harrowing mission a secret while also battling racist neighbours, Charlie’s sparring parents and the perils of young love.
Silvey’s critically acclaimed tale was adapted for the stage earlier this year by actor Kate Mulvany and has since played to sold-out audiences in both Sydney and Melbourne.
The film version stars well-known Australian actors Toni Collette and Hugo Weaving alongside a cast of talented children and teenagers.
Fourteen-year-old Levi Miller plays Charlie, 16-year-old Aaron L. McGrath stars as Jasper and 15-year-old Angourie Rice plays Laura’s sister Eliza.
Rice comes fresh from appearing alongside Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in this year’s The Nice Guys and shooting the highly-anticipated blockbuster Spider-Man origins movie.
Despite starring child actors, Jasper Jones is no kids’ story. The dark story leading up to Laura’s tragic death is disturbing and powerful, leaving you thinking long after you’ve put the book down.
“I wanted to explore a lot of things with this book,” Silvery has said of Jasper Jones, his second novel.
“One of my primary areas of consideration was the sloughing of innocence that is growing up, that moment where the bubble is burst and you’re suddenly exposed to the real truth of things and the blind trust of childhood dissolves.”
Here’s hoping the movie manages to capture what’s captivated readers and audiences for seven years and counting.
Jasper Jones hits cinemas on March 2, 2017.