Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta

A number of months ago, I got what I would call a regularly scheduled ultimatum from my literary conscience Rhapsody Jill, telling me I had to read this book.  It wasn't a suggestion.  She said I HAD to.  This usually means I have something special waiting for me between these pages.  So I dutifully bought it on my Kindle and earmarked it for summer reading.


She told me that I needed to pay attention, and that I may be inclined to re-read it as soon as I finished it...sort of a "Sixth Sense" kind of thing.  I considered myself warned (often I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to complex plots) and proceeded cautiously.


Synopsis:  Taylor Markham is a seventeen year-old orphan of sorts who attends an Australian boarding school out in the bush.  She is the newly appointed leader of the school, and everyone is relying on her to navigate the precipitous rules of territory and war between the kids at school, the townies, and the cadets that train in the area each fall.  She doesn't have much time to dwell on the fact that she was abandoned by her mother when she was eleven, and longs to find her again...but it is always in the back of her mind.  She relies on Hannah, a local woman who has mentored her since she arrived, but she recently disappeared without a word.  Then in struts Jonah Griggs, a cadet with whom she has a history.  


Meanwhile, in alternate chapters, we are told a story of a car accident with three survivors.  A tale of five children who forge an unbreakable friendship that can't be broken, even by separation or tragedy.  


Slowly, these two stories mesh together, like a beautiful, mysterious dance.  A dance that celebrates motherless daughters, fathers and sons, best friends, young love, keeping some traditions and breaking others, and finding the answers that explain who we are.


My thoughts:  This book was an absolutely gorgeous read.  The world that I was plunged into was one I didn't ever want to leave.  And yes, if I didn't have three thousand books calling for my attention, I'd read it again right now.  Never mind that it is officially labeled as Young Adult, this book is for HUMANS WITH A BEATING HEART.


It wasn't initially easy to understand, and it is important you know that up front, lest you get frustrated and stop reading.  Jill had told me to pay attention, so I did, and immediately treated the two stories like a puzzle or a mystery I needed to solve.  It was complex, well-developed, expertly-paced and extremely satisfying.


I fell in love with the characters.  Taylor wasn't your typical angsty teenage girl.  She is strong, fierce and passionate, but reserved in order to protect herself from heartbreak.  Jonah Griggs, the ying to her yang, blasted into town all intimidating and badass, but had his own defense mechanisms that were put in place for the purpose of demon-fighting.  Jonah was ultimately adorable once you see his soft underbelly.


The supporting cast of characters, both the adults and kids, were equally as unique and precious.  As unique and precious as your own motley crew when you were in high school.  A big group hug was what I wanted most at the end of the book. 


So yet again I find an author who I feel compelled to make into a project, reading the back list (the other was Gillian Flynn).  Marchetta's writing is edgy and smart, her structure unique.  I need more of this in my life.


5 out of 5 stars 





18 comments:

bermudaonion said...

The folks at Fiction Addiction have raved over this book. I wonder if my pea brain could understand the complexities.

caite said...

I am glad I don't have a literary conscience...not sure I could take the pressure! ;-)
but still..5 out of 5...what to do?

Brooke said...

How can I not read this now? Your enthusiasm is highly contagious!

Julie P. said...

I'm off to find this one!

Nise' said...

I loved this one too as well as Melina's other books!

Ana @ things mean a lot said...

YES. All of this. And I love how you call Jill your literary conscience :D

Zibilee said...

I have been reading so many great reviews of this book, that I feel I need to read it now that it has so many stamps of approval on it! I love complex and layered books, and this one sounds like it might just fit the mood I am in. Great review! I love that you gave this one 5 stars.

Carrie K. said...

I've been reading about this for more than a year now. My library doesn't have it, so it will have to go on the wish list for the next time I have some book money. Great review, Sandy!

Melissa said...

Gah! Another 5 star read from you! As little as I read these days I'm barely keeping up. But my library had a copy available so this is up next.

softdrink said...

Is it not enough that you convinced me to try Flynn's back list?? Now you want me to read this, too?? The nerve of some people.

Jenners said...

I think I was told by Jill to read this as well. It sounds familiar for some reason. Going to make sure I read it now!!!!

Tasha B. said...

This is going to be a movie, yes?

Jenny said...

I need to hurry up and read this one before I have to take it back to the library lol! It sounds great!

Meg @ write meg! said...

Well, if that didn't sell me -- I don't know what would!

Alyce said...

I'm pretty sure I already have this one on my wish list at various swapping sites, but I'm going to go double check just to make sure. I definitely want to read this one sooner since you guys both loved it so much!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Your book summaries are the best! You need to offer a workshop...

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I should probably reread this because I read it years ago and didn't get it AT ALL. I'm sure I missed the whole point so I should definitely read it again.

Loraine said...

I love your review! Here's mine if you don't mind: http://lorxiebookreviews.blogspot.com/2012/09/jellicoe-road-by-melina-marchetta.html

Thanks and have a nice day! =D