For today’s Bookanista recommendation, I’m falling back on a favorite:
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (2006)
From the book’s jacket: In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions. At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor’s the reluctant leader of her school’s underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can’t avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.
And from Goodreads: My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted. It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’d ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-La. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of kilometres away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father said that it was about time the four of us made that journey. I remember asking, “What’s the difference between a trip and a journey?” and my father said, “Narnie, my love, when we get there, you’ll understand,” and that was the last thing he ever said. We heard her almost straight away. In the other car, wedged into ours so deep that you couldn’t tell where one began and the other ended. She told us her name was Tate and then she squeezed through the glass and the steel and climbed over her own dead – just to be with Webb and me; to give us her hand so we could clutch it with all our might. And then a kid called Fitz came riding by on a stolen bike and saved our lives. Someone asked us later, “Didn’t you wonder why no one came across you sooner?” Did I wonder? When you see your parents zipped up in black body bags on the Jellicoe Road like they’re some kind of garbage, don’t you know? Wonder dies.
It’s been nearly a year since I read Jellicoe Road, but I still can’t get over its unique, compelling characters and twisty, mind-bending plot. I still recall how it slayed my heart and nearly brought me to tears. I’m in awe of the awesomeness of this book. In fact, on the off chance I ever have another child, I’m pretty sure I’ll name the baby either Taylor or Jonah after Jellicoe Road‘s main characters–I love them that much. Jellicoe is my very favorite young adult novel, and any time anyone asks for a book recommendation (YA or otherwise), it’s the first title that springs to mind.
“It’s strange in the beginning,” I say. “You’ll be confused. Many of the characters have odd names. There’s a lot of bouncing between past and present. You may even want to give it up… DON’T. Stick with it. The payoff is so, SO worth it. You will NOT be disappointed.”
The review I wrote for Jellicoe Road in March of last year still holds completely true. Here it is:
Two stories woven seamlessly together. Mystery, romance, perfect teen dialogue. I loved this book more than I can adequately describe… but I’ll try.
First, lets talk about Jonah Griggs. It’s almost as if he was written just to make me swoon. There are a lot of fictional guys I dig, but Jonah… He’s exactly my type. Rugged, brave, stubborn, loyal, sort of crass yet super sweet with Taylor. He’s a cadet. He enjoys tramping around in the woods and he wears fatigues. What can I say? I’ve been married to a soldier for almost eight [nine, now!] years. It’s my thing.
And Taylor. She’s severely lacking in people skills, but she’s still she’s awesome. No nonsense, vulnerable, and erratic. I loved her interactions with her friends Raffy and Santangelo, but I especially adored any scene she shared with Griggs. She forced him to confront his fears, just as he did to her. She challenged him, just as he challenged her. Neither of them ever once backed down from the layers of conflict that stood in their way. They’re a perfect match.
Jellicoe Road‘s mystery and the way it unfolds over two separate storylines, decades apart, is genius. While I knew early on that somehow all the characters and plotlines would eventually come together, the conclusion was a true surprise. Melina Marchetta has a knack for connecting even seemingly insignificant threads in the most satisfying of ways.
Fair warning: Jellicoe Road‘s original plot, super-tight pacing, and gorgeous writing might make you want to quit reading forever. When I finished, I was sure I’d never find another book that moved me the way this one did [I still haven’t!]. The mystery is perfectly layered, the setting (Australia!) is all-consuming, and the characters got right inside my head and have been camping out there ever since. And if you’re a writer, well, be prepared to feel completely incompetent.
Still, I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book.
Yep. I stand by that review 100%. Jellicoe Road is a beautiful, beautiful book. If you’ve yet to read it, I hope you’ll pick it up. And, for the record, I’ve since read Melina Marchetta’s Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son and fallen head-over-heels for both of those stories as well. I’m so looking forward to reading the rest of her work.
Don’t forget to check out what other Bookanistas are up to today:
Christine Fonseca surrenders to THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL
Corrine Jackson delights in CHOPSTICKS
Stasia Ward Kehoe presents a Stunning Seconds interview with A MILLION SUNS author Beth Revis
Jen Hayley gives a shout-out to the classics
Debra Driza celebrates CINDER – with giveaway!
Hilary Wagner is all about LEXAPROS AND CONS – with giveaway
Carolina Valdez Miller talks about the tremendous cover of TEN
Jessica Love has high ratings for
THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
So… what’s YOUR very favorite YA book? Tell me about it!