Thursday, 11 August 2011

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

5 Stars!


I think I know well by now that Melina Marchetta is one of my favourite authors – not just YA but authors in general because I maintain that she is so much more than a YA author and delves so much deeper in to the emotions, trials, heartaches, letdowns, hopes and fears of not just one protagonist but a whole group of people in general. Her stories encompass more than the average teenage heartache and there is in fact nothing average about her stories or the way her prose sucks a reader so deeply into a story. Jellicoe Road was another star read and although I find it really hard to choose a favourite among the three books of Marchetta’s I have read, I will say that there is most definitely something very special about this book and the characters we meet in it.

This story was a puzzle for about 120 pages. Readers are sort of thrown into the chaos of one girl’s life – Taylor Markham – as she reveals to the readers the ins and outs of her life, her mother’s disappearance on the Jellicoe Road when she was 11, the fact that a ‘hermit’ spent the day with her before whispering something in her hear and then shooting himself, the fact that the ‘territory wars’ are fast approaching between the Townies, the Cadets and the Jellicoe school of which Taylor is a member and a new leader must be named. Taylor of course becomes the leader, much to the annoyance of most of her senior classmates who try to unseat her.

Taylor was a great protagonist. She tells her story as it is intermingled with prose written in italics which as you go along you discover is a separate story of five kids who lived in the area years before. I won’t go much into their story because it would mean giving spoilers but I will say that their story is so much a part of Taylors and as the pieces begin to come together you realize how important every moment in this book is. Nothing is separate, nothing is written just for the sake of it. Every moment and word comes together by the end to create such a beautiful and achingly poignant story. I was as invested in the five kids as I was with Taylor and her growing understanding and friendships with the leaders of the Townies and the Cadets. She also re-establishes a friendship with two of her long ago friends Rafaela and Ben who support her in her leadership of the Jellicoe School. At first glance the whole idea of the territory wars may seem odd or inexplicable, but really it’s like the town is playing a huge came of capture the flag or War and by the end readers come to realize how the territory wars came to be and what their significance was years prior.

What I realized while reading this book is that Marchetta’s stories remind me somewhat of Carson McCullers who wrote The Heart is a Lonely Hunter a beautiful and tragic story of misfits. Marchetta mostly rights about misfits in her books. The people on the outside who find comfort not in being the same as everyone else, but in finding those special people who can take one look at you and know instinctively what you are and how you’re feeling. She writes about the pain we all go through, with parents, friends, school, and life in general and how one person can change everything without you even realizing it.

I also can’t end this review without mentioning a very important character – there was a romance in this book and it was as beautifully depicted and described as the rest of the novel. Jonah Griggs and Taylor have such a heartfelt, real and strong connection and I loved every minute of their story as they started as enemies with a secret and weighty past, moving into a tenuous friendship before falling headlong into what both have felt for one another for over 3 years. There were actually three main love stories in this book, and each one has its share of beauty and heartbreak.

Throughout the story the pieces of this book come together and readers start to understand the connections between past and present. Although I ended up figuring out the connections long before they were revealed to the reader, the knowledge didn’t lessen my enjoyment one little bit. Ultimately it’s the journey that takes you through the lives of the characters that make the difference and by the end while I was flipping the last pages before bed last night, I had tears streaming down my face. It was a hopeful ending and I loved it, but the ride there had some beautifully tragic moments to get over.

Another resounding success by Melina Marchetta. Couldn’t have been any better.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a great book! I've never read anything by maybe this would be a good place to start! Great review :)