Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thoughts on Jellicoe Road by: Melina Marchetta

*My first book review! Tell me what you think!

Book Summary:

"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.

My Thoughts:

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:
"If you want romance, go be with Ben Cassidy. Maybe he'll fawn all over you or play a beautiful piece of violin music. I never promised you romance. And stop finding a reason to be angry with me...I just asked if you ate at restaurants."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Where I Go #5: The Zone

by: Maggie Skye
I love The Zone. That moment when reality vanishes around me, and there's nothing but the sights and the sounds of my world. All it takes is a rustle in the room to bring me back to reality, realizing once again how I've totally disappeared.
This is where I go when I write.
Okay, maybe it's not always that picture perfect, but that's a true scenario that happens to me a lot, particularly when I'm drafting.  It’s one of the best things about writing; the ability to not only create a world, but to step inside of it, and leave your own life and problems behind. Just for a bit.
My writing journey began when I was 10. I sat down at a round, wooden table with a sheet of paper and a pen, and proceeded to write the beginning of a story, starting with a princess waking up and getting out of bed (which after about one page, I discarded in favor of a typed-up novel). That’s where it started, and I haven't stopped since.
Most of the time, when I write, it doesn't really matter where I am in person, since ultimately, I'm going to be in my own world. (Well, unless I’m revising. Then I’m probably questioning my decision to be a writer, and likely my sanity.) Living in a family of seven, you learn how to create a space for yourself basically anywhere that's quiet, and (preferably) comfortable.
My spot of choice is usually my bed. It's right by a window (hallelujah! I can’t live without windows!), it's comfortable, and it's mine. I'll also rotate between my desk, the kitchen table, the bonus room, a coffee shop, etc. Wherever I can be that's reasonably comfortable, and reasonably quiet.
When it comes down to it, I think where I write (and why) depends on my age and current living situation. Right now I live with my family, and I'm used to finding the quiet nooks and crannies. Eventually if I go to college, I imagine I'll learn to grab even five minutes to get some writing done. Headphones might become extremely important. (They are already, in cases of coffee shops with obnoxious music or evenings when the family's all at home). One day when I have children of my own, I'll probably write while dinner's in the oven, during nap time; any time I have, really.
The one thing I know through it all, no matter where I am, is that I. MUST. WRITE. It's not a choice. I'm always brimming with ideas and inspiration. It makes me happy, and it makes me feel complete. So wherever life takes me, even if it's by hand in a notebook, I'll ALWAYS be writing one way or another. I'll make a space for myself wherever I am. A space to be comfortable in, until I ease into The Zone, and leave the world behind.
Maggie Skye is a 17-year-old writer, photographer, and tea-drinker. When she’s not writing or lost in some book or another, she spends her time taking/editing pictures, having adventures, and enjoying anything sweet. She helps run Write On!, a blog for teen writers and readers, and blogs personally HERE. You can always catch her on Twitter (@DancinTravelbug) or via email (lizzy.skyeATgmailDOTcom).


For more info on this guest submissions series, visit the "Where I Go" submissions page