Taylor Markham is not a popular choice. She is erratic, has no people skills and never turns up to meetings. Not to mention the incident when she ran off in search of her mother and only got halfway there. But she's lived at Jellicoe School most of her life and as leader of the boarders that's her greatest asset. Especially now the cadets, led by the infamous Jonah Griggs, have arrived. The territory wars between the boarders, townies and cadets are about to recommence.
But Taylor has other things on her mind: a prayer tree, the hermit who whispered in her ear, and a vaguely familiar drawing in the local police station. Taylor wants to understand the mystery of her own past. But Hannah, the woman who found her, has suddenly disappeared, leaving nothing but an unfinished manuscript about five kids whose lives entwined twenty years ago on the Jellicoe Road . . .
Review - I can't pretend that this will be a normal review. Those who are regular readers of Persnickety Snark know that I am a HUGE Melina Marchetta fan because she's a talented writer, she has created many intensely personal and real characters and I think she's the bee's knees as a human being as well. This is biased. But then again the Printz award, and the plethora of other awards she's won for this title and the others, show that (perhaps) I have exceptional taste.
Jellicoe is my beloved. I adore it. I have read it many times and recently listened to it as my first ever audiobook experience. I can't objectively review it anymore. So instead of writing a proper review, I am writing down the twelve reasons I love it.
1. At first it has a more confusing structure than the Christopher Nolan movie, Momento. Relax and let all the carefully crafted threads start weaving into a tapestry of awesomeness. The results? A final scene that will squish your heart into minced meat. It also makes Jellicoe Road a fantastic book to read multiple times as you always pick up something new.
2. Shows that tween girls really are terrifying and that they can make teen boys quake in their boots.
3. All of Marchetta's boys are crushable. But she has a way with kissing scenes...don't believe me, check this out - "When I turn around, he cups my face in his hands and he kisses me so deeply that I don't know who is breathing for who, but his mouth and tongue taste like warm honey. I don't know how long it lasts, but when I let go of him, I miss it already." Melting yet?
4. Jonah Griggs, the MOST compelling tortured love interest in YA. He's not supernatural, he's just supernaturally divine. He's an ass, a joker, a tough nut, a sensitive soul and a great snogger. He's also kitted out in fatigues most of the time. He's perfection in his detailed imperfection. Only he could swear at a girl and still make you swoon.
5. The band. Don't want to ruin it but if you've read the book you know why. Comic relief in mullet form.
6. The past - heart wrenchingly awful and beautiful in one clearly imagined intro. The rest is gravy.
7. Hannah - the heart of the book and one half of the soul of the book. Her story and that of the one she loves, is just....ahhhhh.
8. Territory wars. Forget Hogwarts and Voldermort, that's child's play. See what happens when boarders, townies and cadets battle over territory. Enormously fun, sometimes brutal and a great use of the Aussie bush.
9. Santangelo and Raffy. He might be a bully and a cad and a hardheaded mule but his bickering with Raffy cracks me up. He's a good sort and she's a fabulously strong, maternal, uncompromising chick in a completely different way than Taylor.
10. The way in which grief, desertion and family are all integrated so beautifully with love, friendship, war and identity. Big ideas but delicately crafted.
11. The boy in the tree.
12. Taylor Markham. She's more likely to punch you in the guts than give you the time of day. Hurt so many times, she no longer lets people in. She's a brick wall with a harsh edge, direct point of view and an amusing (and usually) blunt way of putting things. Evidence that ballsy female protagonists don't have to live in a fantasy world.
If you haven't read this book ... get up, get to a bookstore and read it immediately.
Format: Paperback, 300 pages
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Source of Review Copy: purchased
Update - What's with the cover? It's the new Australian paperback 2010 cover. In America the cover is orange (correct, Karen).