Monday, January 12, 2015

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Title: Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: August 26, 2008
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and real with Jonah Griggs—the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor has come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clues a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother—who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road. 

The moving, joyous and brilliantly compelling new novel from the bestselling, multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca.

There are some books that as a blogger I feel like I should have read. Or that I feel bad about the fact that I haven’t read them. Especially when they are books that seem to e such “YA classics,” for lack of a better term. Until recently, Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road was one of those books. But I’ve now rectified that situation. And the book left me completely broken.

To Taylor Markham, the Jellicoe School is home. It’s the place she’s felt the safest since her mom abandoned her at the 7-Eleven up the road. Now in her last year of school, she’s been put in charge of the boarders, masterminding their defence in the territory war against the Cadets and the Townies. But things are different in the territory wars this year. For one thing, Jonah Griggs is leading the Cadets. The same Jonah Griggs Taylor ran away with a few years earlier. But then there’s the dreams she’s been having about the boy in the tree, and Hannah, the one person Taylor has always been able to rely on, mysteriously disappears. Taylor doesn’t know what to do and who to turn to anymore. She knows she has to find out more, but she doesn’t know where to start. Most of all though, Taylor is afraid that to get to the bottom of it all she’s going to have to do the one thing that scares her more than anything: confront her own past and finally understand how she came to the Jellicoe Road.

So I have this friend, and pretty much for as long as I’ve known her, she’s been telling me that I need to read Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road. In fact, her telling me to read it sometimes bordered on her yelling at me to read it. This has been going on for a few years and over the holidays, I finally gave in. So you better be happy Ciara. But for real, I should have listened to her so much sooner than I did. I can’t even begin to put into words my Jellicoe Road reading experience. Based on everything I had been told, I knew that this was going to be a powerful story and that it would likely have me tearing up. But still. This story sort of creeped up on me. I was reading, and I was trying to piece together all the different parts of the puzzle and all of a sudden it punches me right in the gut. The emotions just kept on coming and it didn’t take long at all for me to be full on bawling as I was trying to read the last pages of the book. And when I say I was bawling, I mean it. The tears wouldn’t stop coming. Each time I thought I finally had a handle on my emotions, something more happened in the story and I just started crying some more. I just couldn’t stop. Even after I was finished reading, I was still crying. Melina Marchetta wrote an incredibly powerful story and it completely broke me. 

Jellicoe Road is primarily Taylor’s story. But it’s also so many other people’s story. I knew from the start that these stories would all be connected and intertwined together. I just hadn’t realized quite so connected everything was. And exactly who everyone was. As Taylor was working to understand her past, I was there right alongside her, trying to put it all together. And Taylor was strong and loyal, much more so than she gave herself credit for. But she also needed people more than she thought. She was a master at closing herself off from the people around her, afraid of being abandoned again. And the person who tried more than anyone to break down those barriers Taylor insisted on putting up was Jonah Griggs. I’m not really sure there’s any way to put Jonah Griggs into words and have it even come close to what an amazing person and character he was. All I can really say is that Jonah Griggs isn’t someone I’ll be forgetting anytime soon. And I highly doubt Taylor will be forgetting him and letting him go anytime soon.

To everyone and anyone who has ever told me to read Jellicoe Road over the years, I finally listened and I don’t regret. Not even one little bit. This was such a fantastic and powerful story. And even though it’s been a couple of weeks since I finished reading it, I feel like I’m still trying to piece my heart back together. That’s how much this story affected me.

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