Monday, May 31, 2010

It has been a really long time since my last post. Since then, I did my classroom takeover, graduated from my credential program, and came to upstate New York to take care of my mom after a double mastectomy. But that's not the only reason. Mostly, I kept picking up books that I didn't feel were worth reviewing. I only review books that I love, and I hadn't read one in a while.

Until yesterday.

Since I came to Syracuse, I've been to the library three times. The first time, I picked up a few disappointing reads. The second time I got movies and wedding books for my mom. The third time I got Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.

Jellicoe Road
by Melina Marchetta

Young Adult fiction
Available now in hardcover

I first read about Jellicoe Road in a controversial post about Young Adult literature. The reviewer didn't appear to have ever read a YA book before and wrote some very uninformed opinions about the genre. I was so annoyed about the article that I had no desire to read the book that had inspired it--but, over a year later, the book was still nagging at me. It won the Prinz Award, so I knew it must be good. When I saw it at the library I passed it twice and then came back. It was speaking to me.

Jellicoe Road is about seventeen-year-old Taylor Markham, whose mother abandoned her six years ago at a 7-Eleven. A woman named Hannah found her there and took her to Jellicoe High, a boarding school with a long history of turf wars between the students, the Townies, and the Cadets who camp nearby for two months a year. When the book opens, Taylor has just been chosen to lead her House against the Townies and the Cadets, despite the fact that she has a history with one of the Cadets.

As the book unfolds--slowly, quickly, beautifully--we find out that Taylor's story is linked to another one that began 22 years ago on the Jellicoe Road. This is a book full of heartbreak, passion, and truth. Even though I was never a teenager at boarding school in Australia, I felt like Melina Marchetta knew me when I was seventeen. Somehow there is something in Taylor's story that reminded me of my own, despite that fact that we have nothing in common. That is the mark of great writing--when an author can bring forth emotions and memories that the reader has never felt.

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