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jellicoe roadSynopsis: “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.

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“My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted.”

— Jellicoe Road opening lines.

I wish I’d read this book sooner. I wish I’d read this way back in 2011, when I first learned about it, and everyone told me how wonderful it is. I wish I’d read it in 2014 when I finally purchased a copy based on the rave reviews, but alas, I did not, and I feel like I wasted eight years of my life having not read it until this moment–eight years in which I could have had Taylor, Jonah, Chaz, and Narnie besides me and in my heart, eight years in which I could have recommended this novel to others as a must read, just as it was recommended to me… I’ve been away from the reviewing world for about four years, and this is literally the first book I’ve read in nearly five years that’s wrapped me so tightly that I read it in one sitting; it kept me up into the wee hours of the morning turning the pages, wanting to know more, but not wanting the story to end, and I finished it in a whirlwind of feelings just five short hours after I began.

When I first began this novel, I’ll admit I was confused. But Marchetta immediately drew me in with those two opening sentences I mentioned above. How could she not? Marchetta tells two stories that intertwine throughout and paint a beautiful tale of mystery, identity, and finding oneself, but in the beginning, that isn’t as obvious, and it might tempt you to put the book down and check it off as just “not for you.” DON’T DO THAT! Trust me on this one, you need to keep reading. It will all come together in the most perfect, beautiful way, but you’ll have to wait for it, which is part of what makes this novel so good. The prologue begins in the past–and thankfully Marchetta chooses to tell the past in italics to help the reader get their bearings as the novel progresses and switches between the two narratives, one in the present, and the other 18 years in the past. The story in the present of course takes the forefront, focusing on a boarding school and a semi-violent turf war between the Cadets, Townies, and the Jellicoe School Students as they battle it out for territory for six weeks each year, and the territory wars are extremely serious. Between a coup, running dorms, hiding the “war” from teachers and adults, and trying to negotiate for territory, the main character, Taylor, is introduced and solidified as a young woman hell bent on keeping her head down and just trying to make it through unscathed. Abandoned at 11 by her mother, she doesn’t know much about her parents nor her identity, having pushed her life prior to Jellicoe from her mind soon after Hannah picks her up from the 7-11 in town and brings her to the school. Taylor’s story is heartbreaking, but at the same time, it is majestic and healing as well, and as Marchetta unveils new information about events that happened 18 years prior through her expert sprinkling of foreshadowing, savvy readers will begin to piece together who and how each person from the past and the present intertwines with one another so seamlessly.

This is a wonderful story that builds realistic characters that jump off the page and enter the reader’s soul. I cannot say enough about how perfect this story truly is, and I highly, highly recommend you pick up a copy and start reading TODAY! Five stars!

I purchased this novel from Amazon.

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