I just recently re-read Jellicoe Road for the trillionth time, and you need to read it too. For the last couple of years, this has taken the spot of my #1 most suggested book. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Jellicoe Road is a hard book to summarize, but let me give it my best shot:
There’s a territory war happening between the boarders (at the Jellicoe boarding school), the townies (from Jellicoe/Jellicoe High School), and the cadets (the military academy students who are camping on the boarding school property for the next six weeks). While the three “factions” negotiate, Taylor Markham– the leader of the boarders– is trying to work out where Hannah, the woman in charge of her boarding school house, has disappeared to, using Hannah’s disorganized manuscript for clues. The manuscript tells the story of five teens– three boarders, a townie, and a cadet– and Taylor is starting to wonder just how much of the manuscript is fiction.
There. I know, I know: my description probably doesn’t make you want to run out and read it, so you’re just going to have to trust me. Let me lay out my reasons why you should read this book:
1) The characters.
Taylor, the vulnerable leader of a boarding school community; Jonah, the cadet with whom she has strange history; Chaz, the townie enemy with a soul; and Raffaela, who sustains them all with her strong beliefs. Not to mention Ben, the violinist; the Mullet Brothers; Anson Choi; Jessa and Chloe P.; and Richard, who wants to stage a coup. (And beyond that … the five fascinating teens in Hannah’s unfinished manuscript!)
2) The dialogue.
Melina Marchetta is a master of teenage dialogue. It’s so funny and spot-on and meaningful and good.
A couple, non-spoilery quotes for you:
‘Guess what?’ Fitz said.
‘I don’t know,’ Jude said. ‘What? Narnie smiled?’ He glanced at her for the first time.
‘When you guys see a Narnie smile, it’s like a revalation,’ Webb said, gathering her towards him.
Jude stopped in front of her and, with both hands cupping her face, tried to make a smile. Narnie flinched.
‘Leave her alone,’ Tate said.
‘I need a revelation,’ Jude said. ‘And you’re the only one that can give me one, Narns.’
What kind of freak is this kid who’s giggling hysterically with the girls in the neighbouring beds, each with a crush on the other for being the same age when the rest of the world seems so old?
For reasons he couldn’t understand a sadness came over him and it was then he saw the girl standing on the other side of the dirt road, her eyes pools of absolute sorrow, her light brown hair glowing in the splinters of sunlight that forced their way through the trees.
This book is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, so at first you won’t understand just how everything fits together. But it does. Oh, how it does. In fact, after you read it once, you might do what my sister did, and immediately re-read it to catch everything you missed the first time.
5) Did I mention it’s funny too?
There are parts that will make you want to laugh aloud!
So, all in all, Jellicoe Road is deep, funny, sad, poignant, fascinating, original, and well-written.
What are you waiting for?