Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (HarperTeen)
Review by KM
As Christmas comes closer, many of us are struggling for last minute gifts. If you’re searching for a teenage book-lover, I cannot suggest Jellicoe Road enough. It’s been one of my favorites for half a decade now; I reread it every chance I get. Recently, I’ve heard rumors that it may be made into a movie next year, so best to catch it early since it may be the next big hit.
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.*
As I said before, Jellicoe Road has been one of my absolute favorite books since I was a teenager. I will never be able to pick out just one part to be my favorite; the entire thing is just fantastic.
To start things off, it begins with one of the best hooks I’ve ever read: “My father took one hundred and thirty two minutes to die. I counted.” You can’t help but to read past that line. From there, it’s just getting better and more engaging until you end up with this giant book-hangover (here’s a tip: reading it again always helps a book-hangover. Hair of the dog and all that.)
Taylor, Raffy, Ben, Jonah, and everyone else makes up this giant crew of kids that you want to know and visit. Part of me wants to relate it to Harry Potter, where you have your houses and there’s this mostly-friendly competition between each other, but are all united by sharing this area and history.
My favorite part (okay, I’m saying it, but there are literally no-limits to my favorites in this novel) is Hannah’s book. Every few chapters, a bit of Hannah’s book is written in, showing her story from twenty two years ago. It’s intertwines perfectly with everything Taylor is going through, showing the history of all the characters at once. When it merges, it does so in a way that pulls everything together so satisfyingly.
Overall, if I could afford to buy this book and pass it out to strangers on the street, I would. I’d fill cafes and park benches with it. And then the movie would come out next year and I’d greedily gobble my popcorn as I watched it, only to go on a ten minute rant to my husband about it after it was done (which may have been the exact situation after last night’s Battle of Five Armies).
*Summary borrowed from Amazon.com