by Melina Marchetta
Hardcover: 9780061431838, HarperTeen, $17.99
Paperback: 9780061431852, HarperTeen, $8.99
This post was originally published here
in August 2008. A few alterations have been made to the version posted on Afterthoughts…
Every time I read this book, I cry. I am not generally a crier. Yes, tears welled at the news of Walter in Rilla of Ingleside (by L.M. Montgomery, and if you don’t know the news, I’m not telling), and okay, I admit it, I am a HUGE movie crier (I swear I shed a tear at something in almost every movie), but about books, and most importantly, in real life? Not a weeper. Have you ever seen The Holiday with Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Jack Black, and Cameron Diaz? Jude Law has a funny bit in it about being a major weeper. Not. Me.
I digress. The point is, not every book reaches in and pulls at my heartstrings, so I wanted to tell you about one that has. Jellicoe Road
by Melina Marchetta
The main character, Taylor Markham, is 17 and lives at the boarding school on Jellicoe Road. Her mother abandoned her when she was 7. She doesn’t know anything about her father.
Taylor has just become the new leader of her House at school, and the unwillingly chosen leader of all of the House leaders. The leaders don’t believe in her. Her House barely knows her. Though Taylor doesn’t want the responsibility, she has no choice but to shoulder it.
There’s a war, you see. A war that began almost 20 years ago and is faithfully carried out while school is in session. Townies vs. Cadets. vs. the Houses of the school on Jellicoe Road. The Townies are kids who live in the town nearby. The Cadets are boys from the military academy that comes to the area for training ever year. There are property boundary lines, invasions, retaliations and retributions, fist fights, broken bones, treaties, and maybe a hidden tunnel.
There’s Taylor’s closest-thing-to-family, Hannah, who has just disappeared. There’s Raffy, Talor’s BFF, who tells her the truth and keeps it from her when necessary. There’s Santangelo, leader of the Townies, with his sidekicks, The Mullets, and his history with Raffy. Lastly, there’s Jonah Griggs – betrayer, former run-away mate, who knows too much about Taylor for his own good, and is currently the leader of the Cadets.
Betrayed numerous times beyond measure, hurt, afraid to hope for love, and reluctant leader, Taylor can’t keep it together. She falls apart. The surprise is who is there to help put her back together when she does.
Who is Taylor? Where is Hannah? Where is her mother? Who will win the war? And in the end, does it matter?
If all that isn’t enough, here’s a taste of the book – just the first two lines should do it:
“My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted.”
Read it. With a box of tissues.