Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

I've been wanting to read Jellicoe Road forever. Or at least it seems like it, and so somewhere in this reading dry spell I decided I needed to spend my reading time on books that I really want to read. What an idea. But seriously, sometimes I remember just how short my life is and that books I've been wanting to read for ages should be my priority! Somehow I missed that this book is hard to get into even after Lenore's whole post about if YA isn't accessible is it a failure, etc. from a few years ago.

And it is. Hard to get into. The problem for me was that I HAD NO IDEA what was going on. Something about Townies and Cadets and school kids fighting a territory war that seemed really silly, but they were taking dead seriously. And the main character, Taylor, was a leader but sort of didn't want to be and yet did. Also she had no parents but this woman that sort of raised her suddenly disappeared. And this woman had been writing a book about some kids and Taylor wanted to finish reading it.

That book is interwoven with Taylor's narrative and anyone who has ever read a book ever knows there's a reason for that, ESPECIALLY considering there is so much mystery surrounding Taylor's parents and the dates line up...but I'll let you discover all of that when you read the book. Fortunately for me, there was enough intrigue to keep me reading despite the fact that I just wasn't getting the book. And then suddenly, I don't know, a little after two hundred pages in things started gelling in a big way (and the focus shifts from the territorial wars in what is a very smart element of the structure of this book, but I digress)

I couldn't put the book down at that point and I ended up WEEPING through the final pages and feeling big things. And then I proceeded to rave about it and admit my first impressions were wrong etc.

Part of the reason I think Jellicoe Road is so hard to understand at first is because Taylor doesn't understand herself. She's prickly and guarded and the reader finds themselves held at a bit of a distance and everything focusing on WARS because Taylor is in a war and fighting is what she knows best. But as Taylor slowly starts to put together the pieces of the past and gets to know the people around her and opens herself up to love, the book also softens. It's...god I know that sounds so cheesy but it's really rather beautiful.

Part of why I love this book so much is because it hits one of my favorite things to be explored in any story--close relationships formed with people that function as family. I love stories about community and friends, really close friends that become like a family and Jellicoe Road has that. And like The Sparrow it's utterly heartbreaking, and yet completely beautiful. Sometimes it just so happens in life that you fall in love with people, not romantically just in everything they are and the you that you are with them, but if you take one person out of that equation things change. Things can never stay the same but it can affect your whole life anyway. It burns true on the pages of Jellicoe Road and it's sad, but beautiful and good, too.

And Taylor gets answers and she gets a new look at life and just read it okay? It's good stuff. (There's a romance, too)

Some pretty quotes:
"My body becomes a raft and there's this part of me that wants just literally to go with the flow. To close my eyes and let it take me. But I know sooner or later I will have to get out, that I need to feel the earth beneath my feet, between my toes--the splinters, the bindi-eyes, the burning sensation of hot dirt, the sting of cuts, the twigs, the bites, the heat, the discomfort, the everything. I need desperately to feel it all, so when something wonderful happens, the contrast will be so massive that I will bottle the impact and keep it for the rest of my life."

"I remember love. It's what I have to keep on reminding myself. It's funny how you can forget everything except people loving you. Maybe that's why humans find it so hard getting over love affairs. It's not the pain they're getting over, it's the love."

Rating: 5/5
Things You Might Want to Know: I think there's some profanity. Oh and a little sex but nothing explicitly described.
Source of Book: Bought it
Publisher: HarperTeen


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