Black Swan Green Paperback – Feb 27 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Any "whingers" out there won't feel comfortable in Mitchell's new novel of burgeoning and cruel adolescent boys in the rural but hardly pastoral England village of Black Swan Green. Heyborne, who performed one of the characters in the audiobook of Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, embodies the voice of 13-year-old Jason Taylor to perfection. His timbre is youthful and a tad reluctant, as might be expected of a teenager with a stammer who wants desperately to fit in with his rowdy friends. Jason's friends sound too much like Jason himself, but since they are viewed from Jason's perspective and since boys in a clique do tend to sound alike, the choices Heyborne makes are not problematic. The 1980s Worcestershire slang is more challenging, however. The addition of the letter "y" to words to form adjectives is somewhat "educationy," but it is sometimes hard to work through regionalisms that one cannot see in order to place them better. Although Mitchell's novel doesn't lives up to Lord of the Flies, which it derives from, Heyborne's performance is both compelling and compassionate, and the audio is entertaining and highly rewarding.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School–Thirteen chapters provide a monthly snapshot of Jason Taylor's life in small-town England from January 1982 to January 1983. Whether the 13-year-old narrator is battling his stammer or trying to navigate the social hierarchy of his schoolmates or watching the slow disintegration of his parents' marriage, he relates his story in a voice that is achingly true to life. Each chapter becomes a skillfully drawn creation that can stand on its own, but is subtly interwoven with the others. While readers may not see the connectedness in the first two thirds of the book, the final three sections skillfully bring the threads together. The author does not pull any punches when it comes to the casual cruelty that adolescent boys can inflict on one another, but it is this very brutality that underscores the sweetness of which they are also capable. With its British slang and complex twists and turns, this title is not a selection for reluctant readers, but teens who enjoy multifaceted coming-of-age stories will be richly rewarded. The chapter entitled Rocks, which centers around the British conflict in the Falkland Islands in May 1982, is especially compelling as Jason and his peers deal with the death of one of their own. Mitchell has been hailed as one of the great new authors of the 21st century; with Black Swan Green, he shows again how the best books challenge readers' complacency.–Kim Dare, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Some great laughs included as well
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Black Swan Green was the third tale of Mitchell's that I've read (Cloud Atlas was the first; a character or two from that tale make a brief cameo in this book, in what felt like a slightly self-indulgent move by Mitchell, although it also was a bit clever as a meta-motif of the "everything-is-interconnected" lessons from that novel). Whereas Cloud Atlas is extremely "macro" in scope, Black Swan Green is much more "micro" in terms of geographic scope and time. Yet, it is equally gripping and has an equally important message. I fell in love with Mitchell's writing thanks to Cloud Atlas ... the infatuation only deepened thanks to Black Swan Green: this is an intelligent, gripping, and moving tale that easily belongs in the same conversation with some of literature's great works in the bildungsroman genre.
Reviews quoted in the book compare this to THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, but I find Jason more innocent, less self-assured, and more genuine. Also cited is LORD OF THE FLIES, and indeed Mitchell's portrayal of schoolboy cruelty might almost be a sequel to Golding's, but the setting here is no desert island, and survival is a matter making it through everyday life, admittedly less dramatic but more poignant. Some aspects of the book also remind me of Kate Atkinson's BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE MUSEUM, especially as Mitchell shares her skill at portraying an adult world through a child's eyes.