H is for Hunk

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Teen literature is full of hunky boys and, if I’m being honest, they’re a big part of why I read YA books. The romantic interests are utterly swoon worthy. They’re so unlike the boys I went to high school with, but exactly like the boys I wish I’d gone to high school with. And, they come in every shape, size, color and persuasion, with varying hobbies and flaws and goals and backgrounds.

There’s the angsty rocker hunk, a la Adam from If I Stay

There’s the gawky science hunk, a la Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door

There’s the tattooed bad boy hunk, a la Alex from Perfect Chemisty

There’s the supportive beach boy hunk, a la Tyler from Moonglass

There’s the bold and valiant hunk, a la Four from Divergent

There’s the loyal boy-next-door hunk, a la Jay from The Body Finder

There’s the brooding hunk, a la Conrad from The Summer I Turned Pretty

There’s the cocky jock hunk, a la Doug from Forget You

There’s the super-sweet biker hunk, a la Harlin from A Need So Beautiful

The list goes on, and on, and on.

So, who’s my YA hunk of choice?

Easy…

Jonah Griggs from Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road

On the Jellicoe Road

Why? Let me count the ways…

1. Jonah’s a badass cadet. My husband’s a soldier. Need I say more?

2. Jonah’s outdoorsy. He doesn’t shy away from dirt or exercise. Hot.

3. Jonah’s got a (very) tortured past, but he doesn’t let it hold him down.

4. Jonah’s tough-as-nails, but he’s incredibly sweet and sensitive and protective when it comes to his main squeeze, Taylor.

5. Jonah’s sort of crass. He doesn’t filter his language, and he doesn’t hesitate to flip someone the bird when they’ve earned it. Maybe I’m weird, but I find this kind of irreverence irresistible.

6. Jonah’s skeptical and analytical. His trust must be earned.

And, because Melina Marchetta portrays him, through Taylor’s eyes, like this:

“If you weren’t driving, I’d kiss you senseless,” I tell him.
He swerves to the side of the road and stops the car abruptly.
“Not driving any more.”

And this:

When I turn around, he cups my face in his hands and he kisses me so deeply that I don’t know who is breathing for who, but his mouth and tongue taste like warm honey. I don’t know how long it lasts, but when I let go of him, I miss it already.

And because he says things like this:

“I’m here because of you. You’re my priority. Your happiness, in some fucked way, is tuned in to mine. Get that through your thick skull. Would I like it any other way? Hell, yes, but I don’t think that will be happening in my lifetime.”

So, there you have him: Jonah Griggs, my YA hunk of choice.

Tell me: Who’s you ideal YA hunk?

Bookanista Recommendation: JELLICOE ROAD

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 GoodreadsMy 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!