Saturday, January 17, 2009

Black Swan Green

Who said New Year's Resolutions are difficult? I resolved to read and blog more about books appropriate for teenagers, and boy, did I strike gold with this one. David Mitchell's Black Swan Green is a gorgeously written, truly funny and achingly sad coming of age story. It follows one year, 1982, in the life of thirteen-year old Jason Taylor. Jason is an eloquent tour guide of his English village. Although only us lucky readers get to appreciate his hilarious and often profound observations about his family, neighbors, and classmates. Actually, readers of the poems he sends in to the local parish paper, under the pen name of Eliot Bolivar, get to appreciate his way with words as well. In daily life, Jason struggles from a stammer and has to constantly check what he says aloud in order to avoid the very bottom of the social pecking order. His depictions of the cruelty of adolescents to one another are painful to read. At the same time, it is a pleasure to peek in on his relationship with his brilliant older sister Julia. Unfortunately, Julia heads off to university, leaving Jason alone with his parents and their disintegrating marriage. Mitchell's recreation of Margaret Thatcher's England and of an anxious, thoughtful boy's struggles and joys growing up is a real treat. Although I finished Black Swan Green several weeks ago, I cannot get sweet, courageous Jason Taylor out of my mind.

1 comment:

Misrule said...

This is a book I have given to others on its reputation, but never read myself. Must borrow it back and read it!