Monday, November 14, 2011

Just Contemporary Review - Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

"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.

I am not even going to pretend that I know how to review this book! The one thing I can say for a fact that it is a MUST READ! I can't thank Ashley and Katelyn ENOUGH for making sure I read it! It started months back when Katelyn read the book and I commented to her and Ashley that I'd have to give it a read seeing as how they both love it so much. Then about two months ago Ashley asked if I had found the book. The bookstores nor library around here carry it, so I finally ordered it online. It took me a week or so before I started reading. I was about 50 pages in when LIFE got in the way. Busy at work all day which made me tired at home so I wasn't staying awake late to read. The free time that I did have I spent finishing up my novel. But I PROMISED them I would read it. I told them I had vacation coming in November and it was my FIRST priority. That was this week.

And man am I GLAD I finally read it! Five stars isn’t enough for this book. I won't lie. It is a hard book to get into. I'd say if you can make it through the first 140 to 150 pages then you're golden. And Ashley explains it best when she says it's "magic" how all the pieces fall into place. 

The majority of the story takes place on Jellicoe Road. We're thrown into a territory war between three groups of kids; the students of Jellicoe School lead by Taylor Markham, the Townies led by Chaz Santangelo (who for some reason I kept wanting to call Santiago), and the Cadets lead by Jonah Griggs. The war begins every year when the Cadets show up to camp near the boarding school and town. To me, the war seemed to have no rhyme or reason at all, but it was life or death to these kids. They believed in them so hard that I began to believe in them too. It made me think back to when I was a kid playing games like "war" and "kick-the-can" with the neighborhood kids. I got why it was so important to them. To kids, games are the most important thing. But it was when the kids sort of grow up and began to see this war as a game that the real lessons are learned.

My father took one hundred and thirty two minutes to die.

I counted.

It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’d ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-La. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of kilometres away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father said that it was about time the four of us made that journey. I remember asking, “What’s the difference between a trip and a journey?” and my father said, “Narnie, my love, when we get there, you’ll understand,” and that was the last thing he ever said.

We heard her almost straight away. In the other car, wedged into ours so deep that you couldn’t tell where one began and the other ended. She told us her name was Tate and then she squeezed through the glass and the steel and climbed over her own dead – just to be with Webb and me; to give us her hand so we could clutch it with all our might. And then a kid called Fitz came riding by on a stolen bike and saved our lives.

Someone asked us later, “Didn’t you wonder why no one came across you sooner?”

Did I wonder?

When you see your parents zipped up in black body bags on the Jellicoe Road like they’re some kind of garbage, don’t you know?

‘Wonder dies.’

Then there’s the story within the story, where, to me, the real mystery hides. This story is told by Hannah, one of the adult figures at Jellicoe School. Bits and pieces are given to us throughout the book (the excerpt  above is from goodreads and also the prologue which is the start of the sub story) and all the while we don't know if these characters—Narnie, Webb, Tate, Jude and Fitz—are real or made up. It takes place in the same setting, but twenty-two years in the past. Each segment of the story tells a little more about each of these five characters; how Narnie protected her brother Webb, how Tate crawled over to comfort the two, how Fitz road in and saved the day and how Jude holds them together. Without this, the book wouldn’t make sense.

My favorite part of the book is two of the main characters, Taylor and Jonah, and the relationship between the two; though it’s not your typical love story. Right away we get a sense of history between the two, a past that neither seems to want to remember, but both needs to come to terms with. Taylor, who was abandoned on Jellicoe Road at age eleven by her mother, is a strong, stubborn and determined. Though she wasn’t top pick by her peers to lead Jellicoe Road, she does everything she can to prove them wrong. Then there’s Jonah, evenly stubborn and determined, he’s admired by his fellow cadets, as well as everyone else. Throughout the story the two play a game of two steps forward and two steps back until they finally come to an agreement.

It's hard for me to describe why this book is so amazingly wonderful. There isn't one thing about it, it's everything. From the characters, the school, the town, to the territory wars, etc. It's happy and sad. It's tragic and hopeful. And nothing was thrown in just because; it all has a meaning, a purpose. And Ashley is 100% right, it's magic when it all comes together.


Katelyn said...

Your review is absolutely brilliant! I just can't believe how perfectly you described the books. The last paragraph is my very favorite because it explains everything so perfectly. Every little detail has a purpose and at the end, when everything came together I was just stunned in silence by it's pure amazingness! I am so extremely happy that you got through the book. Now we can all have late night Twitter convos and start pushing those who haven't read it to read it!!!

Jen Ryland/YA Romantics said...

I loved this book SO much. It has a permanent place on my keeper shelf.

Ashley said...

I LOVE it!! Seriously! This is a beautiful review and I'm absolutely thrilled that you loved this one as much as I had hoped!! THIS book is why I am a little more than a lot obsessed with Melina Marchetta. :) The woman is BRILLIANT! :D

Seriously- Ashley has MUCH love for this review!! Magic indeed! Love! :D

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