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Black Swan Green

Average Rating 4
( 42 )
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5 Star

(19)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 42 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted December 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Immensely Enjoyable and Very Profound

    I loved it!! This is way more than the story of a 13 year old boy finding his place in a troubled world. Mitchell captures perfectly, with honesty and humor, the "family" including antagonism between parents and sibling rivalry...using all the right words at the right time. When Jason refers to his "unborn twin" to reveal his conscience, what a clever way to capture his innermost thoughts and feelings. I loved the juxtaposition between Jason the stammerer who stumbles over words when speaking and Jason the poet who gets the words perfect when writing them down. And the part where Jason and the elderly Belgian woman explored the meanings of "beauty" and "truth" is very profound. Each chapter (revelation) is better than the next. It's no wonder that David Mitchell has been lauded as one of Britain's young accomplished writers. "Black Swan Green" may not be as complex as "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob DeZoet," Mitchell's newest novel, but it's very clever in its' own right. Highly recommended!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Decent read but unremarkable

    The novel covers one year in the life of thirteen year old Jason Taylor during the 1980s in Worcestershire, England. I'm not really sure why the author chose to create a character that can resemble almost any child at that time and place. Even though Jason was a good kid, maturing month by month into a teenager, his world seemed no different than anyone else's. Of course there was the two month long war in the Falkland Islands where the casualties touched close to Jason's home but that seemed to come to an abrupt end when the chapter ended and Jason's story continued without much mention of that horrible ordeal. Black Swan Green was a challenging read and left my feeling a bit drained. <BR/><BR/>Overall the book didn't seem to give any conclusions to any of the debates that were left in the open. Jason was gifted when it came to writing his beloved poetry but shy in front of his friends who were bigger bullies than he could ever bee. His character shone brighter than others and I felt sorry for him for the way his parents struggled to keep their marriage intact. The humor in the story is balanced with the hardships of growing up but the slang used in order to make the book authentic gave me a headache! I was tired of trying to understand meanings behind the ways the boys bullied each other with words and then felt terrible when physical fighting took over. I can't really say what this story is about. It felt like a film with random chapters, a panorama of Jason's activities; the very many many fights, the hobbies, first kiss and the heartaches but without any real conclusion that would give the reader closure. Perhaps Jason moved on with his life, the next months not written on paper but meant to live and expand in the reader's imagination. <BR/><BR/>The book is readable and there are some good bits but I have to confess it didn't pull me at all, and I hate to say but felt like a boring snoozer in some parts. I had to force myself to open it and read little at a time; it felt more like sometime I'd have to read for school than for my own enjoyment. I picked it up solemnly on the great reviews but it just didn't speak to me, we're all different and enjoy different things in many ways so it's all okay with me, I don't expect every book I pick up to be fantastic, this was one of those duds in the road that made me stumble over. For those who like to read about adolescence growing up I would recommend "Summer of Night" by Dan Simmons, which was part fantasy and horror but 100% stunning. <BR/><BR/>- Kasia S.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2014

    All i could say is this is very heart warming.

    St. Lucys home for girls is very heart warming. I love how they explained how hard their lives were and also very difficult. For the fact that they were raised by wolves, their trasitions were pretty valid. Meaning, changing a part of you that isnt meant to be changed can be very difficult to transition from who you are to something else.

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  • Posted August 6, 2013

    Jason Taylor has secrets, and if they get out, he¿s ruined. His

    Jason Taylor has secrets, and if they get out, he’s ruined. His stutter and his amateur poetry will make him a target for bullies for years to come, and no girl will have anything to do with him – including the savage and beautiful Dawn Madden. He is dreadfully aware of his less-than-average place in the social pecking order, and wants nothing more than to be accepted by his peers. He doesn’t want to live in fear either.

    Jason’s story only gets more complicated as family difficulties, love, bullies, friendship and a distant war that seems all too near take their toll in their own unique ways. Jason must navigate this labyrinth at a time when he is dreadfully ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of a life he is only beginning to understand.

    Black Swan Green by David Mitchell began as a pretty average coming-of-age story about a thirteen-year-old boy named Jason who is struggling with adolescence, and the harsh realities of the adult lives that bleed into his own. It engaged me enough to keep me reading, but lacked the literary wizardly of Cloud Atlas.

    However, what felt like a lot of set-up eventually fell into place at about the mid-point, and after that I was fully vested in the characters and couldn’t put the book down.

    The run-of-the-mill tale blossomed into a poignant, original, and heartfelt experience about what it means to be confronted by the confusion and uncertainty of a future that seems infinite and overwhelming.

    Black Swan Green has all the marks of a good book because it took me through an emotional gamut, from humor, to sadness, to contemplation, and back again. Mitchell’s simple observations about life, society, and human nature follow a rich literary tradition, and like Steinbeck, he excels at penning emotionally resonant descriptions and insights that are, at times, poetic. 

    Mitchell is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, and I expect I will have read his entire repertoire soon enough.


    -Vlad Vaslyn
    Author of Brachman's Underworld, Yorick and The Button (Fall 2013).

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  • Posted December 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Adolescence. If there¿s something else like that time in your li

    Adolescence. If there’s something else like that time in your life, I’ve never heard of it. When is there another period that alternates between being excruciatingly horrible and exhilaratingly brilliant? Awkwardness, attraction, body changes. Crushes, bullies, first kisses. Faces that haven’t caught up to noses yet. Boys are tiny, girls terrifying and towering. And neither sex understands the other. A kid’s status can change overnight from cool (superhero underwear!) to outcast (superhero underwear!) without any warning. Main theme from this age: pay attention or die.




    Maybe I haven’t read that many coming-of-age novels (or Bildungsroman, as I have learned today), but when I think of them, I always assumed that these types of books were either moody in an “adults don’t understand me or my generation at all so I am going to sulk and smoke filterless cigarettes” kind-of-a-way or something abhorrent happens that  knocks the main character for a loop or otherwise takes them on a journey that most people never have to experience. I found out that I am wrong, that it really can be any kind of book where the kid just grows up. So, yes, this book is a coming-of-age novel; but it is so much more because it also flies below the radar. The tales, the pacing and the discoveries aren’t really profound. They just are the truth that we all experience in one way or another.




    Jason Taylor is a new teen in Margaret Thatcher’s Faulkland Islands-era England. He lives in Black Swan Green, a village in Worcestershire, which is a place he considers to be the middle of nowhere. Plus, there are no swans. He finds himself to be uninteresting, uncool and desperately trying to stay below the radar of his fellow classmates that would crucify him if they knew he stuttered. There’s a definite strata of kids, and certain things can get you lowered a peg or two. Like stuttering. Or having people know that you write poetry that’s published in the parish newsletter.




    This is a story of thirteen. The struggles to be heard, wanting someone to like like you, trying to convince your parents that you aren’t a little kid anymore. Being respected (or, more accurately, not tortured) by your peers. Hoping that teachers would stop being tired sadists. Trying to make it through the day without embarrassing yourself, or worse, having everyone else see you embarrass yourself.




    There is one chapter for each year of Jason’s life with a different tale each month: a sister leaves for college, an old lady giving a lesson in writing. Fights, loss of life, a first crush. Being comfortable in your own skin. Standing up for yourself, no matter what. Ordinary stories, really, but out of their “ordinariness” we find resonance and depth. And ourselves.




    The first thing I wondered when I starting to write my review was the age of David Mitchell. Was this book autobiographical? Did he stutter like the main character, Jason Taylor? After a quick search on Google, I discovered that this tale is, indeed, semi-autobiographical. The author does stutter and he grew up in the area where the story takes place. Mr. Mitchell was born in 1969, so he was thirteen,  the same age as the protagonist, in 1982, the year the book takes place.




    The book’s honesty is palpable. Wanting to hide something so you’re not different. Trying to keep from being lumped in with that group of kids that is the most scorned. Attempting to show some measure of cool, without being called out on it. In  other words, middle school. And even though quite a bit of the slang was new to me, it flavored this book and made it a truthful slice of life.




    4 of 5 Stars (Based on Ink and Page’s Rating System)




    Genres: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary
    Ages: 14 and up
    You might want to know: Occasional profanity, mild discussions of sex, drinking and drugs




    Black Swan Green by David Mitchell was published April 11, 2006 by Random House.

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