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Black Swan Green Paperback – Feb 27 2007

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (Feb. 27 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067697497X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676974973
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.7 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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Format: Paperback
Mitchell, who dazzled with Cloud Atlas, tells a much simpler story here in Black Swan Green. On the surface it's about a young boy becoming a young man, down deep it's about the human condition and about complex human relationships. Mitchell manages to create a fully believable 13 year old boy - a creature that's hard to catch in words - and allows you to see the world through his eyes. He is becoming alive to the lives of others around him and beginning to understand relationships, power and popularity. For a North American, like me, there was a lot of idiom that was unfamiliar and required some figuring out ... but that is no great surprise. When I talk to anyone under 15 I'm lost ... but when I invest the energy the rewards are well worth it. Black Swan Green is a classic read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Given the current buzz about bullying, particularly in the wake of Amanda Todd's suicide in Vancouver after being subjected to continuous harassment, it's striking to encounter a novel that is about almost every kind of bullying imaginable, from the dog-eat-dog world of soulless work to art criticism to family politics to, of course, the typical muck of public school hierarchies. As the dust cover announces, this is a voice similar to Holden Caulfield's in Catcher in the Rye, but it has no whining self-indulgence; instead, Jason Taylor is an utterly convincing 13-year-old persona from 1982 who describes his Worcestershire world with the eye of a poet but a documentarist's objective vision. Among other joys, this novel ends with some of the finest lines to conclude a book I've ever read. This is John Green for grown-ups.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Enjoyable coming of age book that captures some of the real drama that growing up offers
Some great laughs included as well
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The rhythm of prose brought me back on a lovely ride to my days as a young boy. Mr Mitchell describes boyhood adventure with great graphic intensity. Through all manner of emotion, including the local link in the Falklands War, this book is one I shall always cherish.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 230 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a coming of age novel that felt REAL April 28 2013
By C. E. Stevens - Published on
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I should probably start with a confession: I am in the minority of people who didn't particularly like Catcher in the Rye. I didn't necessarily dislike it, but it just never spoke to me in the way it spoke to so many others. I didn't fully understand why until I read Black Swan Green. For me (and I suspect many others), my youth was not one of prep schools, running away, prostitutes, or mental breakdowns. Most importantly, it was not full of dramatic ANGST, in the way that it is portrayed in Catcher in the Rye. Instead, like Jason Taylor in Black Swan Green, life was simply too busy for wallowing in angst ... "busy" in the sense of mundane adventures (that nevertheless feel more consequential than anything else in the world at the moment), family drama, and the interminable boredom punctuated by moments of terror known as school! As much as one would like to hit the pause button, the merry-go-round of life never stops, especially for a young adult. Mitchell does an outstanding job capturing the day to day excitement, fear, loneliness, and dilemmas actually faced by a 13 year old--many of which can be easily generalized to the world of adults, which is no less full of pecking orders, pressure to look cool/competent, jingoism, fear of failure, etc. than the world of children. In fact, this is part of what makes Mitchell's story so gripping: despite the incredible detail and the specific setting in 1980s England, this is a microcosm representative of the world at large. As a result, Black Swan Green is an extremely universal tale--I felt like I could relate incredibly well to the story, despite growing up neither in the 1980s nor in England!

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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There are much better David Mitchell books Feb. 22 2015
By Drew - Published on
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A disappointing lack of a real ending. Feels very autobiographical. Very few surprises here. The writing is engaging, but there is not much of a "journey" here and I found nothing new. The most interesting supporting character for the development of the young man who is the protagonist, abruptly disappears and there is no apparent impact on the storyline nor the character development.
5.0 out of 5 stars Gold star for Black Swan Green June 15 2016
By jerry haldeman - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great story, sequence of events for 2 years in the life of a youth in 1980's England. Colorful writing with visual detail brings characters and events to life in exquisite detail. Brings you back to your youth and what went through your mind in those confusing and rapidly changing times. Tugs at your heart strings, and makes you yearn for justice and salvation for the youth. I've read several of David Mitchell's books, consider him one of the top 3 authors I have ever read, and this book is in that top tier of his work.
5.0 out of 5 stars liked this one a lot Aug. 11 2016
By P. Bolton - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This may be the most 'conventional' of Mitchell's works. There is a narrator who is a recognizable human and you can have empathy for him. The story is well told, the writing is great. One might quibble that the 'house in the woods' is a magic realism touch that is out of place in this work. Not a fan of what I've seen or his other books, but this one was a compelling picture of a certain sort of adolescent.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The anguish of adolescence March 15 2007
By Roger Brunyate - Published on
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This is a much simpler novel than Mitchell's others: a first-hand and presumably autobiographical account of a 13-year-old boy, Jason Taylor, growing up in the West of England in 1982, in 13 chapters (almost short stories): one for each month and one more to close the circle. The schoolboy slang is challenging and I found the book slow going at first. But as the Falklands War and other aspects of Thatcherism begin to affect life in rural Worcestershire, Mitchell builds up a detailed picture of the period and, within that, the normal development of an unusual boy (a secret poet, a stammerer) who wants desperately to fit in. Two themes begin to dominate: Jason's gradual awareness of problems between his parents, and his own sufferings at school, which seem at first like normal ragging but eventually turn out to be more serious. Mitchell's last two chapters had me in tears.

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.

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