Firstly, let me congratulate myself on FINALLY doing it – I finished On the Road!!!
It’s broken into parts and I actually enjoyed the first one. There was a nice sense of free-spirited adventure and I could remember being in my early 20s and taking spur-of-the-moment trips.
Then everything went downhill, mostly because Sal and Dean’s “deep” conversations, had while on drug-induced manic highs, bordered on nonsense.
However, there were some wonderfully worded phrases, like on page 8o*:
Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields…
A beating flow to words, like on page 210:
He was poking me furiously in the ribs to understand. I tried my wildest best. Bing, bang, it was all Yes! Yes! Yes!
And, finally, on page 212, the sentences that really seem to sum it all up:
Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.
I enjoyed this book, although it didn’t pack quite the same emotional punch to me as Kirby’s debut Moonglass, I think because a few things felt overly coincidental. The setting was fantastically written; I was sweating alongside Honor and Rusty. Speaking of Rusty…
If I was 17 again and met him, I’d totally be in love with that broken, charismatic boy.
Charlie Bucktin, a bookish thirteen year old, is startled one summer night by an urgent knock on his bedroom window. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in their small mining town, and he has come to ask for Charlie’s help. Terribly afraid but desperate to impress, Charlie follows him into the night.
Jasper takes him to his secret glade, where Charlie witnesses Jasper’s horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion. He locks horns with his tempestuous mother, falls nervously in love, and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.
I can’t think of another phrase to describe this book but slow-burning. It’s set in 1965 and it was interesting to view that time period from an Australian perspective. Vietnam is mentioned a few times, mostly just things Charlie overhears, but it’s in that innocent it’s-a-world-away detachment. It added to the already simmering tension in this small town.
The book was in the YA section at my library, but it has more of an adult looking-back feel to it as Charlie relates the events of the summer. Sorta like an episode of The Wonder Years, except the cracks and flaws and dysfunction are more apparent.
What’s the best book you read this month?
*Pages based on the 40th anniversary edition.