Jellicoe Road is the location of a boarding school for kids that are often neglected or with criminal tendencies. Taylor Markham is residing in the school because her mother had abandoned her at the age of 11 at a nearby 7-Eleven. Now Taylor is 17 and unexpectedly selected to be the school's leader in the game of territory wars with the Townies (locals from a tiny neighboring town) and Cadets (who spend several weeks a year in the Australian wilderness). Taylor is not sure she can handle the responsibility. She is uneasy more than ever - her mentor and friend Hannah disappears and Taylor is sure it has something to do with her mother; Jonah Griggs, a Cadet who she has a shared past with, is back and seems to know her all too well; she is plagued by dreams of a young boy who attempts to tell her something. What follows is Taylor's journey through the past and present to uncover the reasons why and how she was abandoned by her mother.
Melina Marchetta draws characters that are deep, complex, and real. The relationships among them are touching - more than anything I think, this book is about the power of friendship and, boy, there are some magnificent examples of friendship in this book! The book is also about grief, guilt, forgiveness and, of course, love.
If I am forced to point out any flaws in this book, I'd say the writing some might find confusing in the beginning. It takes a few pages to figure out what is a dream and what is a page from a story Taylor is reading; what is from present and what is from the past. But soon enough all pieces of the puzzle fall together and you are faced with a deep, meaningful and heartbreaking story.
Another thing that might bother readers is that some characters go through a lot of tragic events, sometimes too many. However, the story never becomes overly melodramatic or emotionally manipulative IMO.
Jellicoe Road is a remarkable work of YA fiction and rightfully deserves the Printz award it was given in 2009.
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.