Associate Links: Amazon/IndieBound
- Why I picked it up: Rave reviews + cool cover
- Disclosure: Borrowed from library (was not reimbursed in any way by author or publisher)
"What do you want from me?" he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.This is the kind of book I want to point out to people who say that young adult literature isn't *real* literature. The kind of people Maggie Stiefvater wrote an awesome, awesome rant against in this post here. This book made me laugh, cry, and wonder all at once. Seriously. It blew my freaking mind. I can count on two hands the number of YA books that have done that to me, and even including adult books, that list wouldn't expand that much.
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.
Funnily enough, though, it took me forever to get into it. The first half is slow and a little confusing, especially the stories of the five kids in italics. But even if I lost the plot a bit, the characters captured my attention from page one, and I found myself really caring about what happened to them. I confess to engaging in my bad "skimming" habit once or twice - picking a page towards the end at random, reading a sentence, picking another page, etc., etc. - just to see if something really exciting was going to happen, but once I hit about halfway through, I realized that it wasn't a book of big happenings, more of small, emotional battles. And honestly, the book is better for it - we already have more than enough *action* books around, and not nearly as many books exploring the questions that this book did.
The thing about this book that was the most beautiful to me was its exploration of the many sides of love. It somehow managed to prove that a romance does NOT have to involve a supernatural being to be very, very pulse-pounding, as well as show that romantic love is not the only kind. Jonah and Taylor, Taylor and Hannah, Hannah and Jude; Tate and Webb, Tate and Hannah, Tate and Taylor...I could go on and on and on with the examples of love in this book, all complicated, all heartbreaking, all true to life without being so true that they're tough to read.
A last, superficial thing about this book that was difficult to get through was the teenaged Australian slang and culture, which I am sadly very ignorant of, but that's obviously not a reflection on the story. Besides my own ignorance, Melina Marchetta's writing is breathtaking and her dialogue is spot-on. And this review is starting to sound all discombobulated, because it was just that good! This is the kind of book that stays on my bedside table (until I have to return it to the library, of course), because reading it makes me feel better. It's definitely one I'll buy, at least sometime when my book budget isn't completely busted. I know I've recommended an awful lot of books lately, but if you listen to no other review other than this one (and of course, The Book Thief), I'll be happy!
The Final Verdict: The kind of book that becomes an instant classic. Multilayered and occasionally difficult to understand, this book could (and probably will!) make your year! Five out of five stars.