sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

March 6, 2012

into the stacks: jellicoe road
posted by soe 3:43 am

Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta

From the jacket: “Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn’t a lot of time for introspection. and while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.”

My take: Taylor is in her final full year of at the Jellicoe School and is beginning to feel the pressure. She was already head of her dorm. Now, she’s just been elected leader of her school’s army in the three way turf battle between them, the townies, and the pack of military school boys who come out from Sydney to their woods for a six-week-long annual training camp. It’s an unpopular decision among her fellow dorm leaders, who threaten her with a coup. Plus, her relationship is rocky with Hannah, the woman who took Taylor in when her mother abandoned her at a local convenience store when she was 11. It’s been particularly strained since the previous year when she and one of the cadets ran away together in an attempt to go find Taylor’s mother and the answers to why she’d left.

But when Hannah leaves without saying anything to Taylor, it’s unbearable. Could something have happened to her? Would she, too, have just up and left Taylor? And does The Brigadier, whom Taylor has seen skulking around Hannah’s cottage, have anything to do with her disappearance? And are there any answers in the story that Hannah has been writing all these years?

Taylor’s best friends, Raffaela and Ben, have her back, but it’s going to be a challenging time for her. Chaz Santangelo, head of the town kids, is an ex of Raffaela’s, and the leader of the cadets is none other than Jonah Griggs, who stole Taylor’s heart when he agreed to help her find her mother the year before, but then dashed it when he called his school to tell The Brigadier where to find the two of them. Neither of them are what you would describe as sympathetic. And if the three factions weren’t in an all-out war at the beginning, their stressed interpersonal relationships are going to lead to big trouble.

Taylor’s story is interspersed with pieces of Hannah’s book, which tells the story of Tate and siblings Narnie and Webb, all of whom were orphaned when their parents’ cars crashed in a head-on collision on the Jellicoe Road; Fitz, who found the wrecked cars and pulled the three children to safety; and Jude, who reminded them all what was worth living for. Both sets of kids are troubled and moody and melodramatic, but they all feel realistic, and you can’t help but root for them to move beyond their problems to find some sense of peace and family.

Taylor will get her answers, but they aren’t necessarily going to be what she wants or expects to hear. It’s what she does with her new-found knowledge, though, that’s going to help her figure out how to move forward when her own time comes to leave the Jellicoe Road.

Pages: 419

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