Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Jellicoe Road

Marchetta, Melina. 2008. JELLICOE ROAD. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061431838 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

It’s war—again. Taylor is the reluctant and not particularly popular leader of the students at Jellicoe School as the annual war with the Townies and the Cadets begins. No one quite understands why this occurs each year, but they all take it very seriously. But this year is different. The leaders of the three factions have a “history,” one that they do not even completely understand. All three leaders have their personal demons—Chaz Santangelo, the Townie leader and policeman’s son, wants his father to appreciate him even though he understands his father loves him; Jonah Griggs, the leader of the Cadets is still trying to get over the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father; and Taylor Markham who was abandoned by her mother and never knew her father, is trying to understand why her guardian, Hannah, has disappeared. Hannah has left the manuscript of a book she has been writing for years, and as Taylor reads this she begins to comprehend how they are all linked, why the wars begin, and how much the three of them need each other.

This Printz Medal winner by Australian Marchetta Melina is powerful, complex, and rich. Part mystery, part coming of age, part love story, and at times, almost surreal and stream of consciousness, this is a book to savor.

The richness of the writing would make this a good novel for high school English novel study and lends itself to comparison with other books with parallel themes.

It also offers the opportunity to look at the boarding school experience set in Australia and the unique and universal qualities apparent in this distinctive setting.

Other books about discovering the truth:
Green, John. LOOKING FOR ALASKA. ISBN 0525475060
Peet, Mal. TAMAR. ISBN 98707636354889
Plum-Ucci, Carol. THE BODY OF CHRISTOPHER CREED. ISBN 9780786816415

By Janet Hilbun

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