Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #35: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

I’ve read Cloud Atlas, Ghostwritten and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell, and enjoyed them all thoroughly. Despite this, I have been in no rush to pick up Black Swan Green. I assumed it would be good but I still wasn’t quite that interested in reading a coming of age novel. Also, I’ve noticed there are some authors that I feel like I have to read their whole backlog as soon as I discover them, while others I slowly get back to, even if I loved the novel I read. I am not sure what determines the distinction, but I think it might also be that as I get older, I don’t always rush out as much as quickly unless it’s the beginning of a series.
Jason, the novel’s thirteen year old narrator, is one of those kids that doesn’t quite fit into any of the cliques. As the novel begins, he is not popular but he isn’t unpopular or an outcast, either. The novel covers about a year of his life, and each chapter felt like it took place in a different month (I think there are thirteen so that’s not completely accurate), sometimes referring to events in previous chapters, sometimes not. Jason doesn’t fill in all the blanks between one chapter or another, so in some cases it is up to the reader to guess what may have happened in the last few weeks, but the novel certainly seems to address the highlights of Jason’s life that year. Jason has a few fears in his life – he writes poetry that gets published under a fake name, and if anyone were to ever discover this, his social life would be ruined. He also has a stammer which is different from a stutter that he has mostly been hiding from the kids at school by avoiding trigger words as much as possible.