"What do you want from me?" he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.
Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.
In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.
This book kept me awake until 4 AM, huddled in the corner of my bed with my book light, which was dying so fast I had to keep tapping it and squinting at the letters on the page. At some point, I got to page 380 and I just had to get up and dig around my handbag for some AAA batteries because I knew I wasn't going to sleep after a few more pages like I'd promised myself an hour before.
When I picked up this book, I didn't think I'd be sucked in. In fact, I felt a little left out. Between the italicized passages, the lingo, and the territory wars, I couldn't figure out what was going on. The only things that kept me reading were:
1.) I loved the first line: "My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted."
2.) I needed to figure out what was going on.
The first line is provocative (you love it too!). And I needed to figure this book out because it confused me so much. The story of the five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road (Fitz, Narnie, Tate, Webb, and Jude) is so complex that I almost didn't want to understand it, but it was like I didn't have a choice. I needed to understand who these kids were so I could understand Taylor and her life, because those five kids lives' and Taylor's and Jellicoe Road are intertwined; that part is clear from the beginning. It's the why that's unclear.
Melina Marchetta is a genius. The simplicity of her writing is breathtaking. There's no adornments, she is talking about the past and the present, and pain and rage and she's doing it in a way that doesn't make it pretty, but real. Her dialogue is quick and funny, and you might want to be careful reading this book in public because there will be times when you literally throw your head back and laugh (I'm telling you this from experience. People will look at you like you've lost it.) Then there will be times when you want to cry or slam the book shut and never pick it up again.
All this to say that this book is worth buying and reading and should get its own pedestal above your bookshelf. It's one of those books that you don't get, you know it's a good story but you don't get it or why it matters or what's going to happen next. For most of the book you don't get it. Then everything starts to fall into place and when this happens, it's freaking amazing. Honestly guys, I'm still thinking about this book and I finished it a week ago.
The Characters and Some Memorable Quotes:
- Anyone who has ever been disappointed one too many times can relate to Taylor Markham. Her character resonated with the cynical side of me, which I loved because sometimes I read books and I don't relate to the character at all. When that happens I always feel like I'm pressing my face up against a glass, watching the story unfold from there. Anyway, Taylor has issues with wanting more from the people around her and not wanting anything at all, thinking that caring about someone or something was too dangerous. It's understandable, considering how her mother abandoned her at the 7-Eleven on Jellicoe Road.
- Jonah Griggs is a refreshing change in the male leads I've been reading in books lately. Or maybe refreshing is the wrong word. One doesn't think "refreshing" when they think of Jonah Griggs, a Cadet perpetually in his uniform and boots. I doubt anything I can say would do him justice, so I'm going to let him do the talking. Here's a quote from the book, Jonah is basically calling Taylor on her shit: