Thursday, July 19, 2012
Book Review: Jellicoe Road
I'll admit that after a few pages of Jellicoe Road I wasn't dying to read more. I couldn't figure out how Marchetta was going to write 400 pages about the "war" happening between the Jellicoe School, Townies, and Cadets. It honestly didn't sound like much of a premise for a book. But after thoroughly enjoying Marchetta's Saving Francesca, I kept at it. And thank goodness that I did.
Jellicoe Road tells two stories: that of Taylor Markham, a 17-year old attending the Jellicoe School, and a twenty-year old tale of a ragtag group of friends on the Jellicoe Road . Taylor never knew her father and was abandoned by her mother at a 7-11 when she was 11 years old. Hannah, a pseudo-guardian to the Jellicoe kids finds Taylor and takes her under her wing, providing her a place to stay until she was old enough to begin year seven. Soon after the story begins, Hannah disappears and Taylor is named leader of the Jellicoe School, thrown into "battle" with the Cadets' leader, Jonah Griggs (with whom Taylor shares an interesting past) and the Townies' leader, Santangelo.
Through pages of a manuscript that Hannah left behind, we are introduced to an entirely new set of characters from twenty years earlier: Narnie, Jude, Webb, Tate, and Fitz, a group of friends united by a tragic accident that become like a family to each other.
As Taylor's life seems to unravel, she discovers that the characters in Hannah's story are not just a product of her mentor’s imagination and that her own story intertwines with theirs in ways she never thought possible. Jellicoe Road is a heartbreaking tale of coming-of-age and coming to terms with the life we're given. When Taylor learns her own history, she finally realizes that she has never truly been alone.
At some points it seemed somewhat contrived how perfectly the pieces of the story added up (the mysterious Hermit, the Brigadier, etc.), but sometimes we have to suspend our disbelief in order to truly experience the magic of a story.