Author: Melina Marchetta
Release Date: June 26th, 2007
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.
Some books are destined to be legendary. Some books are made to be passed down from generation to generation, talked about and appreciated for years and years. Some books are meant to live forever.
I truly, honestly believe that Jellicoe Road is one of those books. A brilliant, moving adventure that links two stories both ridden with poignance and loss but so much love, it's a novel that ignites every emotion you could possibly muster and makes them resound through your entire being, even in the darkest crevices you didn't know existed. This is a novel that speaks to your soul.
The entire novel has two story arcs, and initially, it's a little hazy. One takes place in the present and the other decades before, so it's confusing at first. But as you read on, you discover you're on a forked road, except backwards. Instead of standing at the point of the fork, you're one a lone path, and eventually you reach a crossroad and you realize that there's this whole other path that's been linked to yours all along, and you venture into something greater, together. The two story arcs may seem distant from one another, but you realize they're intertwined, and the best thing is that they build on each other. You learn more about one from reading the other one. It begins unclearly, but as you continue on with the novel everything begins to unravel- actually, it begins to crack open. Instead of falling apart or crumbling away, the story breaks open, making way for a revelation. And then the puzzle that's been cloudy from the beginning starts to rearrange itself, and all the pieces that were beautiful on their own form a bigger picture that, as a whole, is greater than the sum of its parts. Every bit of confusion at the beginning is worth enduring because of the marvel waiting to meet you at the end.
The characters that make up this story are all amazing. Taylor, the main character, is damaged beyond belief, and she's guarded and independent and untouchable. It takes a lot to keep up with a character like hers, but Marchetta expertly molds unique, well-developed characters. Raffy's a gem, Chaz is crazy and Hannah is a mystery, and they all take a bit of credit for Taylor's journey towards self-realization and redemption. But nobody can match Jonah Griggs. The only person Taylor has history with and someone else with a grief to match her own, he's loyal, sincere, impatient- totally different from his tough-as-nails exterior but the contrast compliments his character. He and Taylor are so similar in their sadness and shattered pasts, but their affection for one another is almost miraculous in the way it brings out their vulnerability.
A story greater than any word can encompass, Jellicoe Road reminds you of the importance of love and friendship and just how redeeming both can be. It's an enigmatic, life-changing work of fiction with an essence so haunting and breath-taking it's hard to believe all of it could fit into just one volume. It leaves a lingering impact on every reader, one so impossible to forget there could only be one word to describe it: immortal.