Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

jellicoeraodmarchettaJellicoe Road

by Melina Marchetta 

      
  • VOYA Coding:  4P 5Q M
  • Lexile Level: 820L
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (August 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061431834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061431838

Winner of the 2009 Michael L. Printz Award, Jellicoe Road is a complex and compelling Australian coming-of-age novel centering around seventeen-year-old Taylor Markham as she struggles to weave together the clues of her past, the direction of her future, and the haunting pages of a manuscript in progress.  The one place Taylor feels like she belongs is Jellicoe School, a boarding school located on Jellicoe Road.  For the past six years, Taylor has found a voice within its structure and comfort under the wing of local force of nature, Hannah.  As Taylor takes over as house leader and assumes the role of school leader in the territory wars between the townies, cadets, and boarders, she needs the support of her friend more than ever.  When Hannah leaves town without warning, Taylor is shaken to her core and begins spiraling out of control.  She attempts to hold everything together for the sake of her house and school, but memories of her earlier life with her drug addicted mother dog her.  Why did her mother leave her on the Jellicoe Road and where is she now?  Who was her father?  And where has Hannah gone?  With the help of cadet leader Griggs, townies leader Santangelo, and townie-boarder Raffaela, Taylor begins the tricky work of easing tensions between the factions.  As they jockey for territory, the leaders alternately clash and collide until they become enmeshed in a fragile peace.  Along the way, scenes from Hannah’s work in progress flow around the narrative and meld with the images from Taylor’s dreams.  Ultimately the friends come together to help Taylor piece together her past and the mysteries surrounding Hannah and her story.  

The story is well developed and paced, though it can be confusing at times with all of the characters involved.  The ending is satisfying and there are many well thought out plot twists along the way.  Marchetta does an excellent job of playing Hannah’s manuscript against Taylor’s story and the two come together in heart-breaking and realistic ways.  The prologue mirrors the ending with impeccable thoughtfulness and beauty and I found myself thinking about the story long after I had turned the last page.  Just as I would never spoil the storyline of “My Girl”, you will never drag the plot of this novel out of me.  You have to experience it to understand.

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