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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jellicoe Road (Top Ten Pick!)

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

JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta
2008, HarperTeen, 432p
originally published in 2006 by Penguin Books Australia under the title ON THE JELLICOE ROAD
buy here
Notable awards: Michael L. Printz Award; Cybils 2008 finalist
Notable books by the author: Looking for Alibrandi, Saving Francesca
Summary: Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeenm 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 w ho 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.
Review: Okay, I have to admit it. I have to be honest here, because if I'm not honest, what good does that do you, the reader? It does you a disservice, in fact. So the truth must be told. I was originally drawn to Jellicoe Road because of--of all things--the cover. Yes, the cover. I know, I know, don't judge a book by its cover and all that crap. But I loved it, for some reason. Anyways, so Jellicoe Road was duly checked out and read. I read it in four parts during the summer, each part on four different days. The following is a description of the thoughts in my head as I read this book:
part one (first 100 pages): "Okay, this is pretty good. A little confusing, but good...okay, that makes no sense...(laughs)...this is excellent..."
part two (100-200): "...hah...(laughs)...(silent in awe)...this is, that was stupid...(You get the idea.)"
part three (up to page 240): "...Oh. My. God....No, really? (laughs)...She's what?...oh, HAVE to finish this now!..."(I didn't, by the way. I waited until the next day.)
part four (rest of the book): "Wow...what?...that's a shocker...(doesn't talk for thirty minutes while reading)...oh...crap!*cries*...that was amazing."
I didn't really make myself clear there, so I'll do that now:
Jellicoe Road was one of the best books I've ever read.
I will go on to repeat myself on that several times, but there you have it: it WAS. I don't know what it was. Maybe it was the characters. Taylor was probably one of my favorite protags ever, because I just felt like I could relate to her. The writing itself was amazing. Essentially, the way I knew this book was good was that I wanted to savor it, really savor it. It took me all summer to read this book, because I wanted to make sure that there would always be more of Marchetta's bittersweet prose and heartfelt plotting to come. And although the last 170 pages or so were the best, it's not like the other parts sucked. They were better than 99 percent of the books I read. And I read a lot, so that's saying something. Plus, I cried during one part, which I've only done twice while reading a book, ever. Again, greatness.
Thoughts on the cover: The cover gets an 8, being not as good as I originally thot (although the poppy is, I admit, extremely significant). I much prefer the Australian cover. Still, pretty good.
Verdict: Jellicoe Road is beautifully written and extremely funny--thus it is the seventh best book I've ever read and the best Australian-author book I've ever read (beats out The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, which is impressive, seeing as Bindy used to be in the top 5).
Rating: 10