Monday, November 22, 2010
Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Taylor Markham’s mother abandoned her by the Jellicoe School when she was eleven. Now a Year 12 student, Taylor is in charge of the Jellicoe students holding their own in a traditional turf war against the townies and the visiting Cadets. At the same time she also worries about the disappearance of Hannah, the one adult she’s close to in her life.
Interspersed with Taylor’s story is the story about five teenagers that Hannah is writing. The stories interweave beautifully as Taylor discovers what all these people have to do with her past.
Everyone wants to discover life-changing things, whether they come in the form of events, people, paintings, or books. If you’re lucky, you will experience these encounters more than once.
I was lucky. I read JELLICOE ROAD. This extraordinary book changed my life, and maybe it will change yours, too.
To tell the truth, JELLICOE ROAD kind of ruins you temporarily for all other books. For several days after I finished this book, I wandered around in a daze. I picked up books, halfheartedly read the first few pages, then put them down and wandered away. Nothing seemed to match the magical dream-come-true that was genius author Melina Marchetta’s third novel.
It starts out confusingly. What’s going on? Why is there so much tension between all these people? Who are they, anyway? What do they want? Why are they so serious about their situation? But then, invariably, you’ll get sucked in. It’s probably a little like how the average person might fall in love: you can’t pinpoint exactly when someone became special to you, all you can say is that it happened, and you can’t even remember back to a time when they weren’t special to you.
The narration and plot progression of the book reads like a dream: choppy and distracted in a whimsical manner. Don’t expect a conventional story arc, or you’ll probably get really frustrated. Best if you just let it happen as it does.
JELLICOE ROAD reads like someone laughing through tears. I couldn’t help but smile as Taylor, Jonah, and the others endeared themselves to me even before I could figure out what was going on between them all, even as their painful discoveries about their tragic pasts tugged at my heartstrings.
A story this magnificent, this heartbreaking, shouldn’t have this much hope…but it does. That’s the beauty of this book. Melina Marchetta has written a book that is so much more than a simple story in words: it takes on a life of its own.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 (duh.)
Cover discussion: 4 out of 5 - Something about colors and abstractions.... oh, does it even matter, since the inside is so precious?!
HarperCollins / March 9, 2010 / Paperback (reprint) / 419pp. / $8.99