Genre: Coming Of Age, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Young Adult
“If you show someone something you’ve written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin, and say, ‘When you’re ready’.”
Mitchell does it again!! Are we really surprised that I ended up really enjoying this one…
Set in the 1980s this coming of age story follows the life of Jason Taylor a young 13-year-old boy from the town of Black Swan Green as he navigates through the tough challenges that life has to offer with his stammering and coming to terms with his love for poetry. To top it all of he has to overcome school bullies, family drama, the effects of the Falklands War and his strong unexpected feelings towards girls. David Mitchell once again has proven himself to be a master at capturing the normalcy of the backwards English village through a teenager’s perspective.
“These jokes the world plays, they’re not funny at all.”
Seriously impressed so far by what I have read by Mitchell. After Cloud Atlas (Review here) becoming one of the best books I read last year, I was sure that whatever genre his magic hands touches will be an instant favourite. Yes, this wasn’t anything like Cloud Atlas but it was still an enjoyable journey with relatable themes and beautiful prose.
“Teachers always using that “in your own words.” I hate that. Authors knit their sentences tight. It’s their job. Why make us unpick them, just to put it back together more shonkily? How’re you s’posed to say Kapellmeister if you can’t say Kapellmeister?”
What really stood out for me throughout the book was the main character’s growth, Jason. At the beginning of the book, he comes off as a very misunderstood character who just wants to fit in and I was a bit put off because I didn’t want to read another generic teenage boy story with unrealistic expectations that always wins at the end and gets the girl.
But after a few chapters his complexity surfaces and we see that he has so much more to offer and that drives the narrative. The exploration of his stammering was eye opening – the therapy process he undergoes with a speech therapist was fascinating but also heartbreaking to watch how much it affects his time in school with bullies and teachers who don’t really understand his struggles. As we go back to his home we find a very accurate depiction of family dynamics and how dysfunctional they are on the inside but appear normal on the outside. The after effect of war and politics through Jason’s perspective was really interesting, being so young he doesn’t understand quite how everything works and you see the pain, recovery and how war can break down not only a family but the community. He dives in so much in this small book and it was so impressive how effortlessly he tackles each and every topic, really just goes to show you how brilliant of a writer he is.
“The world never stops unmaking what the world never stops making. But who says the world has to make sense? ”
Another aspect that totally blew my mind was the connection between this book and cloud atlas (
not going to mention here because of spoilers) but I almost shit myself when I saw the connections.
It so meticulously placed that only real fans could join the dots. His ability to form connections through books and humans is really what I admire about him. I always think about how stories or everyday life links us and Mitchell take that idea and puts in on paper and I eat it all up. Tones of literary references and 80s Pop-Culture from movies to music and the importance of music and poetry were just an added bonus. I am definitely looking forward to his next book and this just proves that he can write a 1000-page book about the history of the shoe-lace and I would buy it and read it. (
Seriously Go Freaking Read Cloud Atlas)
So until next time stay Bookish 😉