review by Kristina Yin, age 17
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
Black Swan Green is the spiritual descendant of coming-of-age books like Catcher in the Rye and Great Expectations, but because of its modernity and realism, it is far more interesting and relatable than its ancestors. Although it is not a page-turner or has a particularly interesting plot, I had a thoroughly lovely time reading it.
You would think that a 17-year-old Californian girl would have nothing in common with a 13-year-old boy in small-town Cold War England. You are definitely right. My lack of perspective made the story all the more interesting. In Black Swan Green you are privy to all the details of a year in Jason Taylor’s life (the aforementioned 13 year old), and for me, it was a really fascinating and intimate glimpse of a foreign world. But, there is also something about the painful awkwardness of growing up that is universal, and made me both root for Taylor and cringe in sympathy.
The best part of Black Swan Green is Jason Taylor. He is a refreshingly complex main character who feels human. Jason’s monologues are absolute gems to read; he is the humorous, self-deprecating (but not annoyingly so), intelligent, and likable (but above simple descriptors as good or bad). In effect, this novel is the unflinchingly, touchingly, charmingly truthful account of Taylor’s life—his innermost thoughts and most intimate of experiences laid bare.
Mitchell is an amazing writer, well known for literary legends like Cloud Atlas and number9dream. But Black Swan Green is his most honest and unguarded work yet. 4.5/5 stars.
Find this book in our catalog: Black Swan Green
Catalog Number: FIC MITCHELL,D