March 1, 2009

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Jellicoe AustraliaJellicoe US

At 11, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother at the Jellicoe Road. Taylor never really understood why but she understood that Hannah's driving by just a few minutes later wasn't a coincidence. Now, at 17, she lives at the Jellicoe School with Hannah - her guardian - and has been elected to lead The Boarders in the territory wars that have been going on at Jellicoe for almost twenty years between The Boarders, The Townies and The Cadets from some school in Sydney who come to Jellicoe every year for six weeks.

At the same time, Hannah disappears, leaving behind unanswered questions and a manuscript telling the story of five kids who lived at the Jellicoe Road twenty-odd years earlier: the orphaned siblings Narnie and Webb, their also orphaned friend Tate, a local boy (a Townie) called Fritz and a Cadet called Jude. Once these five kids were best friends, loved each other to death and ruled the Jellicoe Road.

Taylor's problems don't end there: Jonah Griggs is back in town. Three years earlier Taylor had run away from Jellicoe, she wanted to get to Sydney and find her Mom, but she met Jonah at the train platform and he ended up tagging along, just to stop her when she was almost there (with the help of a Brigadier who might know more than what he lets on and who's also back). Now Jonah is the leader of the cadets and he hasn't forgotten about Taylor.

Okay, so I'm not going to spoil the book, really, that's half the fun figuring out how everyone and everything is connected. But I will say I loved this book, I couldn't stop reading it, and that it only took a few chapters for me to get very emotionally invested. I WANTED to know what was going on and I totally wanted it there to be a happy ending (or as happy an ending as possible).

The two stories, of the five kids from the past and of Taylor, Jonah and friends; interlock nicely, the more you find out the more you want to know.

There are three great strengths about this book, about all of Melina Marchetta's books (So far: Looking for Alibrandi, Saving Francesca and (On the) Jellicoe Road):

One: You feel for each and everyone of the kids of the story from Taylor, Jessa, Ben, Griggs to the five kids from the past.

Two: There is real humor in this book, not the laugh-out-loud-funny type, but even when I did cry for most of the book (I'm a crybaby, sue me) there were times when I found myself smiling and laughing.

Three: The adults are also very real, Hannah, the Brigadier, the chief of the Jellicoe Police, they all feel real, and none of them is a cartoonish evil interpretation of an adult. In YA fiction that's is extraordinary rare; even though we see them from Taylor's perspective the adults don't seem evil, stereotypical adults: they have problems, motives and feelings and you want them to be happy too.

I really hope I'm never pressed to pick a favorite Melina Marchetta book, I love them all including this one.

starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

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