Jellicoe Road: Piecing the puzzle together

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta; published by HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2008; 419 pages.

Do you know that feeling when you dump out all the pieces of a really big, really complex jigsaw puzzle?  It’s frustrating to find those first connecting pieces and you probably debate whether or not to continue to sort through 500—or  1,000 or more—pieces; is it really worth the effort?  Then, a shift in your thinking occurs, you can’t really identify when it happens, but you’re drawn in, the challenge grips you; and the beauty of the emerging image intrigues you, holes and all.  As the last few pieces call you to place them on the board to finish the project, you slow down and savor those last few moments of the sweet challenge.  That describes Jellicoe Road

At age 11, protagonist Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road.  Miraculously, the mysterious Hannah found her within five minutes and took her to the local boarding school where pieces of Hannah’s life weave their way into the puzzle of Taylor’s life.  While she sorts through the puzzle pieces of her own life, Taylor becomes embroiled in the turf wars between her school, the Townies and the Cadets; and of course, there is a boy and there is angst and there is rebellion.  By the end of the book, Taylor’s existence not only parallels that of Hannah’s youth but becomes inexorably intertwined.  In the process, she rediscovers trust, love and faith. 

I almost put this book down in favor of a less-confusing, and therefore faster, read.  I am so glad I persevered!  Marchetta unfolds the mysteries of the stories to us as Taylor discovers them for herself.  And, oh!, it was a treat to meet Taylor Markham.  She faces similar (yet magnified) coming of age issues as Bella Swan (from the Twilight series), and finds solace in the strength and support of a young man, but Taylor is an independent young woman that recognizes she must be independent and have an existence outside of her relationship to Jonah Griggs.  Beautifully written in language accessible to young adults, Marchetta weaves a mysterious tale that would draw in any teen who can overlook the confusion of the first few chapters.  Love, war, and self-discovery pave Jellicoe Road for Taylor.  This puzzle is worth the time to solve!  As a mystery with a strong protagonist, I think it will appeal to teens.

 4P     5Q   Grades 9-12

jellicoe_roadCover Art:  The image of the orange poppy is explained in the story, but the real value of the cover is the font.  It’s edgy and playful and must have been chosen by a teenager!  The bright orange of a painted swath above the orange poppy and green background makes the black type pop and the visual appeal is echoed on the spine.  This book would definitely stand out on a bookshelf—in fact, I was looking for another book when this caught my eye and I chose it because I recognized the title from the reading list.  It’s not the image that provides the appeal to teens, it is the use of bright orange with an edgy font that will get their attention.

From Reading List: Michael L. Printz Award, 2009 Winner

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  • Today's Daily Brain Teaser (Jul 22, 2017)
    Hidden Category Remove a letter from each of the words below and rearrange the remaining letters to form new words. The 10 words will all fall into a certain category. For example, given the words DEAR, ANGRY, and RENEGE, you could drop the "A" in DEAR to get RED, drop the "N" in ANGRY to get GRAY, and drop an "E" in RENEGE to g […]
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