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Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (thoughts)

May 9, 2012

From the author’s website:
Taylor Markham is not a popular choice. She is erratic, has no people skills and never turns up to meetings. Not to mention the incident when she ran off in search of her mother and only got halfway there. But she’s lived at Jellicoe School most of her life and as leader of the boarders that’s her greatest asset. Especially now the cadets, led by the infamous Jonah Griggs, have arrived. The territory wars between the boarders, townies and cadets are about to recommence.
But Taylor has other things on her mind: a prayer tree, the hermit who whispered in her ear, and a vaguely familiar drawing in the local police station. Taylor wants to understand the mystery of her own past. But Hannah, the woman who found her, has suddenly disappeared, leaving nothing but an unfinished manuscript about five kids whose lives entwined twenty years ago on the Jellicoe Road. 

So Caitlin – do you know Caitlin from whatchYAreading? – thrust this book at me saying it was her favourite book ever and that I absolutely had to read it. While I know I’ve been guilty of doing the same thing with books I love (CHAOS WALKING TRILOGY!), it sure does put a lot of pressure on a book. I was afraid I would read it and be all “well… it was okay?” *awkward pause*. And for the first part of the book, it really did seem like things were going to turn out that way.

Jellicoe Road starts right in the middle of the action. Taylor is awakened in the middle of the night, seemingly kidnapped, and brought to a secret meeting. And while Taylor seems to know exactly what’s going on and is more annoyed about it than anything else, the reader has no idea what’s going on. And for the first bit of the book, you will neither know what’s going on nor particularly care about any of it. BUT don’t give up. Because before you know it, you will be completely engulfed in the story and staining the final pages with your tears.

Taylor is one tough cookie, and doesn’t want anyone to forget it. And as the new school leader in the territory wars, she needs all the toughness she can conjure up, but she kind of takes it too far. Her growth throughout Jellicoe Road is seriously amazing, especially as things from her past are revealed. But the growth in Jellicoe Road doesn’t just take pace with Taylor. It happens in the blossoming relationships between groups and individuals, and watching all that take place was one of my favourite things about this book.

Interjected into Taylor’s story is a separate one written by Hannah, the one set years in the past about five friends. And Melina Marchetta weaves the past and present stories together magnificently. It didn’t take me too long to figure out who the people in the second story were in relation to Taylor’s story, and usually it annoys me when it takes a character much longer to figure these things out when they seem so obvious to me. But not here. Because Jellicoe Road wasn’t just about Taylor solving the mysteries of Hannah’s story. It was about the journey Taylor had to take to get there.

Now I have to go out and get my own copy, because I will be needing to read this again in the future.

Fun fact: When Caitlin & I went to the YA or Bust event at the end of April, one of the questions that was asked of the authors was which book they wished had written. And Gayle Formans answer: Jellicoe Road.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. feelallthethings permalink
    May 9, 2012 6:44 am

    YES YES YES. I finished reading this book like 6 hours ago which is why I’m running dreadfully late right now for work. I think you’re right on the money about the sleepy start of this book…it took a little while to get going for me too. I was like TERRITORY WARS! and then I was kind of annoyed that Taylor was so MEH and annoyed about the whole thing. But what a lovely revelation the whole book turned out to be. I’m so glad I finally read it.

  2. May 9, 2012 9:02 am

    I’m going to have to read this! YES YES YES.

  3. May 9, 2012 10:08 am

    Great review! I tried reading this one this weekend but I just wasn’t in the mood for it, I guess, so I put it aside for the moment. Reading your review, I want to pick it up again and push through it. Thanks! :)

  4. May 9, 2012 2:50 pm

    I loved this book. I loved her Saving Francesca more, but this one was still excellent!

  5. May 9, 2012 7:13 pm

    Every time I read your reviews you absolutely convince me to read the books, this one included. I’ve added it to my fast-growing TBR list. Thanks!

  6. May 10, 2012 8:18 am

    That is pretty awesome that Gayle Forman said she had wished that she had written this. While the synopsis doesn’t sound entirely too interesting to me, I think it will be worth a shot. After all, you kind of the felt the same way initially. :)


  7. May 11, 2012 9:55 pm

    How am I just commenting now? I’m a bad person.

    Well, I’m so, so glad that you liked it and that it didn’t completely let you down. And it’s funny because I get the same fear when I give people books and say “you will LOVE this.” I am immediately sure that they will hate it and thus hate me, forever.

    So, I’m really glad you liked it and we didn’t have to spend 6 hours in a car together with you hating my favourite book.

  8. May 15, 2012 4:36 pm

    AGREED. I thought it was such a good book, even if it did get off to a slightly rocky start, and I thought Taylor’s character was wonderful. Yay!

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