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2009 – Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta

April 7, 2009

“What do you want from me?” he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn’t a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.

Post links to reviews of or your thoughts on this book in the comments.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2009 1:43 pm

    My review of Jellicoe Road

    Jellicoe Road is a difficult read in many different ways. But worth it? Yes! Resoundingly yes! Why is it difficult? It weaves two stories together. The stories are seemingly unconnected…at least in the beginning. And because you–the reader–don’t know what is going on…it’s easy to get frustrated. Easy to get confused. We’ve got the past–from which the prologue serves as an introduction–and the present. (In a way it reminds me of Tamar.)

    The present. We’ve got several teens whose lives intersect–Taylor Markham, Ben Cassidy, Jonah Griggs, Chaz Santangelo, Raffaela, Jessa McKenzie–of whom Taylor is the main character. Taylor doesn’t know where she fits in, “One day when I was eleven, my mother drove me out here and while I was in the toilets at the 7-Eleven on the Jellicoe Road, she drove off and left me there. It becomes one of those defining moments in your life, when your mother does that. It’s not as if I don’t forgive her, because I do” (20). Taylor is one of many students at Jellicoe School, a boarding school; she’s the leader of her dorm or “house”. (There are six houses.) And the school tradition is that there are “wars” between three sects–those that live at the boarding school (led by Taylor), the Townies (led by Chaz Santangelo), and the Cadets (led by Jonah Griggs). These wars involve territories. And these games last six weeks or so. And they’re a big deal for those involved. But what at first seems like a senseless, pointless book on children playing war–tactical strategies, trapping, pranking, and such–soon turns into an emotional journey of the heart, soul, and mind.

    Taylor Markham is concerned, worried, anxious about Hannah, a woman who is the closest thing she has to family, when she disappears without a word. One day she’s there, the next day she’s gone. And Taylor can’t get a straight word out of any of the adults around at the school or in the town about Hannah’s whereabouts. Taylor–though Hannah is still missing–likes to take refuge in Hannah’s house. She loves to read Hannah’s manuscript, for example, which is the story of five kids who live on Jellicoe Road: Tate, Narnie, Webb, Fitz, and Jude.

    I don’t want to spoil this one in any way. But I think this *may* help readers out a bit. I didn’t catch on that the italicized portions–the stories of Tate, Webb, Narnie, Jude, Fitz, etc.–were written down stories. That Taylor was reading something Hannah had written down. I’m still not sure all of them are meant to be. But I think some of them are. And it is these stories which help Taylor to piece everything all together. (I had assumed that they were flashbacks. That they were there for the reader’s benefit, but not for the characters within the book.)

    This is a book that had to grow on me. It wasn’t one that I knew I would love–or thought I would love–from the very first page. But by the time the story comes together, by the finale, it had me completely won over. The story is intricately told and well written. Haunting, yes. Bittersweet, definitely. But one that I think is worth reading and recommending.

  2. April 13, 2009 9:26 pm

    I agree it’s challenging at first. But that also makes it more fun–I had to use my noggin to try to figure out what’s going on! There is that sweet spot with books where being *too* confusing is just plain annoying…

    YAnnabe: My review of Jellicoe Road

  3. April 14, 2009 7:47 pm

    An interesting read – brought out some conflicting emotions in me!

    Here is my review.

  4. agirlnamedsara permalink
    May 25, 2009 3:18 pm

    This Printz winner took me a while to get into. I’d say I was a third, to half of the way into it before I really became intrigued, but then I didn’t put it down. There are numerous interesting characters whom I loved, but at the same time had some difficulty keeping everything straight. There is mystery involved in the story- and I reached the end I felt like I needed to go back and re-read because. . .

    Go here to see the rest of my review:

  5. leftik permalink
    January 3, 2011 2:54 pm

    I loved this book by Melina Marchetta.

    Yes, I was confused for the first half of the book. Very much so. But how everything comes together was rather magical, I thought.

    One of my favorite Printz-related reads thus far.

    Here’s the rest of my (gushing) review.


  1. Tuesday Spotlight: Melina Marchetta | CMIS Evaluation Fiction Focus

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