Published 2008 by Harper Teen
Jellicoe Road is emotional, beautiful, and touching. Everything about it feels real enough that you could imagine these characters existed in reality, somewhere just down the road, around the bend. For that alone, I most definitely recommend it.
After being abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road, Taylor was never really close to anyone. Now the leader of the school in the annual battle between the students of the school, the town's youths, and the visiting cadets, Taylor juggles war games and the personal issues brought forth by her guardian Hannah's sudden disappearance. As she unravels stories from the past, Taylor begins to learn about her own present.
I'm always a little surprised when I find myself loving contemporary novels that have nothing to do with magic or saving the world. But I've found that Melina Marchetta is a wonderfully reliable source of such books, capturing her readers' attention with strong characters and enthralling writing. Fortunately, Jellicoe Road, like the other Marchetta books I've read, is more about a person and her family than romance, making it a much better YA contemporary than most.
As I’m coming to expect in anything written by Melina Marchetta, the characters in Jellicoe Road are vivid, and the narrator, Taylor Markham, even more so. The first-person present narrative, which I don’t normally appreciate, lends an immediacy here that works very well for the emotion of the story. Taylor's lonely, confused character is clearer in how she thinks than what she thinks, and Marchetta does an excellent job showing the former as well as the latter.
Before you read this book, you should probably know that the first quarter or so is confusing. It will all make sense in the end, but until you get further into the story, all the references to territorial wars and cadets and tactics and the secret meetings are a bit bewildering. This may be a flaw or a strength. Yes, it's irritating, but at the same time it is once again a reflection of how Taylor thinks and her nature, which is much more central to the book than the territory wars, comes across most clearly in these pages.
However, later in the book is when everything really begins to click. Marchetta skillfully weaves the mystery of the past into the narrative of the present, and when all the answers are finally revealed, they feel natural, like they should have been obvious all along. The romantic elements are realistic and sweet without being overwhelming. This book has the best kind of ending, one that leaves hope in its wake, but says the story isn't quite finished yet.
Jellicoe Road is similar to:
If I Stay by Gayle Forman