Publisher's synopsis

Full of unforgettable characters, a page-turning pace and outrageously good dialogue, this is a glorious novel – thoughtful, funny, heartbreaking and wise – about outsiders and secrets, and what it really means to be a hero.

Late on a hot summer night in the tail-end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress.

Jasper takes him through town and to his secret glade in the bush, and it’s here that Charlie bears witness to 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 as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother, falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu.

And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse. 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.


  • Winner, National Year of Reading 2012, Western Australia
  • Overall Winner, Indie Book of the Year Award 2009
  • Winner, Indie Book of the Year 2009 – Fiction
  • Winner, ABIA (Australian Book Industry Awards) Book of the Year 2010
  • Winner, ABIA (Australian Book Industry Awards) Literary Fiction Book of the Year 2010
  • Winner (joint), 2009 Western Australia Premier’s Literary Award – Fiction
  • Finalist, 2010 Sydney Morning Herald 2010 Best Young Novelist
  • Shortlisted, Miles Franklin Literary Award 2010
  • Shortlisted, 2010 NSW Premier’s Literary Award – Christina Stead Prize for fiction
  • Shortlisted, 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards – The Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction
  • Shortlisted, 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award