Harper Teen, ISBN 0061431850
March 9, 2010, 432 pages
"In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.
At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor's the reluctant leader of her school's underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can't avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future."
This is one of those books I have seen mentioned again and again in BlogLand, making top 10 lists after top 10 lists among the reviewers I have read.
I read My Friend Amy's review and I read Rhapsody in Books' review and others and saw the great rating on Library Thing.
So I figured it was finally time to pick it up and to give it a go.
I don't want to miss a really good one.
And then I almost put it down again pretty fast.
But I did not, happily, because while it may take a bit of effort to get into, it paid off.
Why did I almost put it down.
Well, because as you start it, I think that you, as I, will have no idea at all what is going on. And that is a little disconcerting. All this talk of Townies and Cadets and battles and territory..did I wander into some sort of end of the world story? What in the world was this all about?
No, this one is firmly planted in the present day, at a boarding school and town in the Australian bush. Well, excepts for the parts we find out about that took place some years ago, mostly from Taylor reading the manuscript her guardian Hannah has been writing. This is the same Hannah's whose mysterious disappearance from her house near the school is at the heart of this story. And heart is what this book, as it gradually unwinds and becomes clearer to us, is all about. Friendship and family and love..and aren't they in many ways the same thing?
I will not tell you any more about the plot. Yes, the first third or so of the book is rather confusing and I bet more than a few readers have given up. Especially in it's targeted YA audience. But stay with it and listen for the clues. I promise you it will gradually all become clear and all start to make sense. Still, it will be right until the very end that it is all spelled out and all those clues get tied together. But by then I think that I can promise that you will be enchanted.
You will spill a tear. Or two.
You will have met some great characters with a great story.
As a small aside, let me just say that while this is listed as a YA book, it is certainly a book that adults will enjoy as well. Which is why I often find putting books in categories like that, while the intention may be good, somewhat misleading. As, I think, in this case, is the cover, with that cute, crooked font, which I think might lead you to believe the book will be something other than what it is. This book isn't cute. But is it interesting and clever and touching and, in the best possible way, sweet.
People of whatever age will like what they like to read and dislike what they dislike. Except for the fact that many, but not all, of the characters are teenagers, the themes tackled in Jellicoe Road are universal and appeal to ever age.
So don't let that...or what may be a slow and confusing start...keep you from reading this one.