Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Publisher: Penguin Australia
Published: August 28th, 2006
Genre: Contemporary YA
Pages: 300 (Paperback)

I adored this book. I’m not sure how I managed to go so long without reading it.

This is not an easy book to summarize, as this is a book you experience. We know that our heroine, Taylor, was abandoned by her mother when Taylor was eleven. But we don’t know why. We don’t know anything, really. We don’t know, because Taylor doesn’t.

The mystery of who she is slowly unravels as the novel progresses (told through interwoven story lines—past and present). Hints and clues are placed in the most ingenious way; you feel like a detective while you’re reading (sometimes I felt tempted to scribble a few notes for myself!). Just when you think you’ve figured something out, something else is presented, maybe a conversation, maybe a word, maybe a name, and then you find yourself scrambling to remember the bits and pieces of Taylor’s story you’ve learned so far. I flipped back to re-read the prologue at least once. It makes you, as a reader, completely invested.

I believe most readers will figure things out before Taylor does. But not in a frustrating way, and you’re constantly rooting for her, hoping she’ll figure it all out, she finds the truth. (Plus, anyone who wins the affections of Jonah Griggs has to be pretty great.)

Is Taylor an instantly loveable character? No. She’s grouchy. She doesn’t put up with anyone. Has a bit of a temper. But her desperation to understand who she is and where she comes from is what lures you in. And the more you learn about her, the more you want her to succeed.

By the end of the book, I was in tears. And, amazingly, they weren’t sad tears. A little out of happiness, a little out of relief. It’s such a beautifully bittersweet journey, and it deserves every one of its accolades.

Pick it up! I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Oh! And if you do pick it up, don’t let the prologue or the confusing/disorienting nature of the first few chapters discourage you from continuing. I was laugh-out-loud confused for a little while, but was so intrigued I couldn’t put it down.

Rating: (An enthusiastic!) 5 out of 5

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