Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (thoughts)
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.