I immensely enjoyed reading ‘The Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell and was on the constant look out for another book by him. I spotted it at an airport bookstore on my way to Chennai. The title ‘Black Swan Green’ does not tell you anything, and I did not even bother with burb. If it’s David Mitchell it will be at the least good writing and I was not wrong.
The coming of age story of a British teenager with the Falklands war in the backdrop is one of the main themes in the book. You are initially disappointed because you wonder that why someone with so much command on narrative would opt for the cliché ‘coming of age’ genre, but the book slowly reveals itself.
The story is about Jason Taylor who has the usual run-of-the-mill teen angst to deal with – a secret crush, being on the good side of school bullies, tiffs with older siblings and image management. Isn’t image everything when you are a kid – what people think of you, what is acceptable, what makes you a pansy..and so on. Jason sincerely believes that he will seriously be dead if his classmates found out that he writes poetry and has a speech defect. He would definitely be pronounced gay and that is probably worse than dying. And only if the adult world of his parents and relatives understood that. But Jason is special in probably being a better person than his classmates, with maturity beyond his years, that finally helps him rise above these social inhibitions and become a whole person.
What makes the book special is that in every chapter you are introduced to a new theme that makes the book for more adult reading. Themes deal with self-esteem , family foundations, social structures, the price of war, the price of love and letting go. It’s a book that needs to absorbed slowly
Verdict : A good read