Jason Taylor is thirteen years old in 1982, the beginning of Black Swan Green. He is somewhat of a misfit, obviously bright and interested in poetry, a stutterer, but he spends most of his time hiding his true self to be more acceptable to his schoolmates. Still, acceptance is fleeting. One year he is on the margins of popularity; the next, he’s a pariah.
His parents have some problems he doesn’t understand. His older sister Julia can’t wait to leave home for university. The economic climate is grim in the wake of Thatcherism.
Black Swan Green seems to Jason to be the most boring village imaginable. Still, he manages to have some adventures, visiting a strange old lady in the depths of the woods, taking poetry lessons from Madame Eva von Outryve de Crommelynck, literally dropping in on Gypsies, all the while trying to avoid the popular bullies in his class.
Although I sometimes wondered where this novel was going (and for a while wondered if any time travelers were going to appear), it eventually got there. More importantly, it features a distinctive voice of a bright, funny, sometimes naive boy. It has a unique notion of character that to me makes the novel stand out.