Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Published: March 9th 2010
Publisher: HarperTeen
Purchase: Amazon / Book Depository / Barnes & Noble
Goodreads: 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.

I was rereading this the other day so I think it's finally time to write a review for it. And I had meaning to do my first blog post, so what better way to do it than with this lovely book?

I thought I had experienced the brilliance of Melina Marchetta's writing when I read Saving Francesca, a stellar novel that reduced me to an aching mess. That was nothing compared to the emotional wreckage that came with reading Jellicoe Road. It is a beautiful novel, well deserving of its high praise, and it is at once a heartbreaking tale but also one that will warm your heart, down to the dark depths of it.

It's not the easiest book to get into, especially because the beginning is hard to understand, at least it was for me until the third attempt to start it. But it is well worth that initial struggle.

This is the story of Taylor Lily Markham, a girl with no parents. A girl with a past that she doesn't even understand. The story of love, loss, family, and the beautiful power of relationships.

See, I remember love.

She is a part of a long tradition in her town, the border skirmishes that involve the three parties of the Townies, the Jellicoe School kids, who include herself, and the Cadets. The Cadets who include Jonah Briggs. It isn't a laughing matter, but a serious one that encompasses an old set of rules and bloodshed.

This year, now that Taylor is the leader, things are going to be different. But facing Jonah, who is the leader of the Cadets, is another story altogether. With a shared past, Jonah Briggs is the last person Taylor trusted, before things went horribly wrong. I don't want to give much away but there is a story behind every past, and theirs is the kind that elicits the urge to hug the characters.

Jonah Briggs, let's say he and I didn't get off on the right foot. I was unsure of whether I was going to love him or not, but I should have had faith. By the halfway point in the book I was utterly in love with this boy. This book isn't quite a romance but the part of the book that was, I wholeheartedly loved, especially the way it unfolded.

Beside Taylor are lovable side characters, the other Jellicoe School kids, each with an endearing face that will make you long to be with them. It's impossible not to fall in love with them and the cherish the bond that holds the characters together. In particular, Raffy and Ben are the ones that feature the most and in whatever universe they truly exist, I wish them the best (highlight for spoiler-ish)
*cough* Raffy with Chaz and Ben with Justine is preferable.
"I believe in you, Taylor Markham."

And there is the question of Taylor's past, how Hannah, the one adult that Taylor can trust, features in it and so much more. It is truly a journey to travel with her, through the heartbreaking joy and tragedy that follows her.

A vital part of this story is about five characters whose intertwining lives are the heart of this story. To divulge anymore would be a crime, but all I can assure you of is that by the time all is revealed I was earnestly sobbing over them. Without them and the fateful incident on Jellicoe Road, this book would have been lost and I am eternally grateful that Melina Marchetta has the mind to write such a beautiful book.

...who set out on their separate journeys that day not realizing the tragic ironies and joys of that collision of worlds on the Jellicoe Road.

I don't often think this, but if any young adult book should be featured in english classes in high school, it would be this book. It was truly an honor to read this.

My Rating: ★★★★★

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