Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.
At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor’s the reluctant leader of her school’s underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can’t avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.
How did I just find this book? I can’t believe I’ve gone a full decade without knowing about its existence.
I loved this book so much. The writing is brilliant. This is literary fiction disguised as young adult.
Marchetta does an excellent job of weaving together two fascinating narratives, one from the past, one from the present. Tragedy forges the bonds for the first group of teenagers, and the consequences of their story are reflected in Taylor’s.
The characters are what make this book work so well. Taylor is a damaged soul who wants to be loved but doesn’t know how to accept it. Jonah, equally damaged in his own way, is a guy’s guy, athletic, tough, and not to be messed with. However, Taylor is the one person who doesn’t fear him because she’s the one person who really knows him. Their romance feels inevitable, like two soul mates whose existence depends on the other.
Marchetta has a way of revealing deep flaws in her characters in a humanizing way that doesn’t damn them, that doesn’t make you judge them for really horrible things. Instead, I found myself not just sympathizing with them but deeply caring about them. I think that through her writing, Marchetta shows how looking beyond surface circumstances to the wounds we all carry brings an understanding compassion.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to read.
About the Author:
Melina Marchetta was born in Sydney Australia. Her first novel, Looking For Alibrandi was awarded the Children’s Book Council of Australia award in 1993 and her second novel, Saving Francesca won the same award in 2004. Looking For Alibrandi was made into a major film in 2000 and won the Australian Film Institute Award for best Film and best adapted screen play, also written by the author. On the Jellicoe Road was released in 2006 and won the WAYRBA voted by teenagers in Western Australia in 2008. It also won the US Printz Medal in 2009 for excellence in YA literature. This was followed up by Finnikin of the Rock in 2008 which won the Aurealis Award for YA fantasy, The Piper’s Son in 2010 which was shortlisted for the Qld Premier’s Lit Award, NSW Premier’s Lit Award, Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, CBC awards and longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. Her follow up to Finnikin, Froi of the Exiles will be released in Australia in October and the US in March 2012.