21 Oct 2010
Review: "Black Swan Green" - Teenage Blues from Worcestershire
I found "Black Swan Green" in charity shop and was immediately attrached to the beautiful green cover. I love the colours of it and would have bought it just for that - however, I am pleased to say that it comes with a really beautiful story inside written by the author David Mitchell whom some of you may know from "Cloud Atlas".
Black Swan Green is the name of the Worcestershire village where Jason Taylor lives with his mum, dad and older sister - and the hangman, as he calls his stutter to put a persona on this impairing speech issue. We follow Jason through thick and thin as he grows from boy to teenager in a year that really pushes him to the breaking point on several fronts.
The book is like several little stories about Jason and his family - I particularly like the chapter where his aunt, uncle and three posh cousins visit from London. The aunt and Jason's mum are sisters, supporting each other, but the dad and the uncle have a thinly veiled competition going on. They have "friendly" disagreements and one is more ridiculous than the other. And then there is the cool cousin Hugo who nicks cigarettes and singlehandedly group pressures Jason into smoking them.
Jason is one of those kids, who is neither cool nor a nerd, he just is. Normal, really. However, within the year that is portrayed he experiences quite severe bullying but gets back with a vengenance. It is a funny, sweet story of adolescent dramas - dramas that most of us remember.
This book didn't have me spellbound. It was not unputdownable. But it was really, really good and very funny. A bittersweet reminder of adolescence but also a great story about surviving bullying, the first kiss, ridiculous parents, stuttering and being an aspiring poet.