Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Taylor Markham should be used to being abandoned. When she was just a kid, her drug-addled mother left her at a 7-11. Now she's a senior at a boarding school and the woman, Hannah, who has taken care of her has disappeared.

Just elected the leader of the Underground Community, Taylor has to take the helm in the annual summer war game between the Cadets, who camp nearby, and the Townies.

Unsure she can lead, worried about Hannah's whereabouts, still haunted by the memory of her mother, Taylor is a whirlwind of anger and confusion. And then there's that manuscript Hannah left behind, with the story about a decades-old car crash which practically wiped out two families.

Somehow, to handle all of the pressure and solve these mysteries, Hannah knows she has to find her mother. But how?

This book was chosen by two of my book clubs, one at my school and one adult YA group. It's baffling at first, but it is mysterious, gripping, and emotional...and it's one of my very favorite YA books ever. (Adults seem to have more patience with the confusing beginning than teens do -- if they can hang in there, it's well worth it.)

Bibliotherapeutic value: I can't talk about it without spoiling the ending, but this book discusses some seriously traumatic episodes. Taylor is a tough, confused victim, but she's not curling up -- she's all action. As wounded as she is, Taylor is the model of a self-directed, take-charge girl. If she could only connect with someone else. In order to do that, she needs to expose some secrets and dredge up some ugly old ghosts. A powerful story about moving forward by stepping back into the past.

Marchetta, Melina. Jellicoe Road. New York: HarperTeen, 2008.

ISBN: 0061431834. $17.99.

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