JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta

Best. Book. Ever.

But if you don’t believe me, JELLICOE ROAD is the story of 17-year-old Taylor Markham who was abandoned as a child by her drug-addled mother and sent to live at Jellicoe School, a boarding school for teens of all walks of life.

When Taylor’s dearest adult friend, Hannah, leaves Jellicoe school to “see a friend” without warning or saying goodbye, Taylor revisits her painful past–the mother who left her, the local hermit who whispered in her ear before killing himself and the strange boy in the tree who speaks to her in dreams. 

But that’s just part of the story. Within the reaches of Jellicoe Road, there is a war raging between the Townies, Cadets and Jellicoe School students who bargain and trade for territory and turf privleges. Taylor, now commander-in-chief of the Jellicoe School, is forced to come in close contact with the Cadet leader–Jonah Griggs–who joined her in trying to run away three years ago, then betrayed her to school authorities.

Marchetta’s writing is poetic and heartwrenching, but also incredibly fun and playful when the timing is right. Set in the Austrailian countryside, her descriptions are visceral and her ability to interweave two seemingly different stories while managing so many subplots is admirable.

Impatient readers may have the urge to give up after the first few pages, but that would be a mistake. The initial confusion is deliberate and makes for a more thoughtful, complex mystery.  Her dialogue is authentic and specific to each character and her ability to sustain realistic, unrequited love for 400+ pages rivals that of any paranormal romance. I can’t give enough praise in the limited word count of a book review blog post, but needless to say, Marchetta is my new writer hero.

I laughed, I cried and I recommend JELLICOE ROAD to readers and writers everywhere.

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