Rating: 4 stars
Read for the Reader’s Room Winter Scavenger Hunt Challenge
This is a beautifully crafted coming of age novel. Mitchell uses language in a way that takes you to the person, place, time, event that he is describing. You can feel how much he loves words through the way he plays with them and allows them to tumble into each other.
The story is set at the time of the Falklands War, and is full of references to things from my own childhood – TV shows, sweets, games, school rituals. It felt very familiar, and at times uncomfortably true. As with all the Mitchell novels I’ve now read, there are links forwards and backwards to his other books, but this novel is less embedded in his ongoing saga of time travel and eternal souls. Black Swan Green is a smaller room in Mitchell’s literary mansion where a few supporting characters can hang out and do their own thing. Worth reading in its own right, though.
The first year of Jason Taylor’s teenage years is a full one. He negotiates a path between wanting to belong and wanting to be true to himself. He watches as his parents’ marriage falls apart. He tries to get his head around the subject of girls. He tries not to worry about the war in the Falklands. He encounters some unique individuals. He comes through on the other side stronger and wiser. I really loved this novel for the way Mitchell captured how it felt to be a young teen in early 80s Britain.