Jellicoe Road

Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta Have you ever read a book that punched you in the stomach emotionally? Because if you haven't, brace yourself for Jellicoe Road (or On the Jellicoe Road, since the title varies). I read rave reviews of this book and that got me nervous, because rave reviews can give unrealistic and unmatchable expectations. In fact, when I started reading, I was prepared for this onslaught of awesomeness and was disappointed when nothing happened. Of course, then I got to chapter 4 and was attacked with compulsively-readable emotional baggage. Jellicoe Road is technically two stories blended together. The past and present unfold simultaneously, triggered by the actions and memories of Taylor Markham. Disclaimer: Taylor is a hot mess. Really. She isolates herself from everyone but her guardian Hannah, who then abandons her at the start of the novel, and has repetitive, violent breakdowns as the story progresses. Now, to be fair, her family life is a jigsaw puzzle of psychological instability, so her breakdowns are merited. Also, while she walks the line of the unreliable narrator, she's never annoying. She's flawed, and she doesn't always have the appropriate skills to lead, but her character arc was surprising and very poignant. The writing is marvelous. It's introspective, intelligent, and has a soothing quality when describing Jellicoe Road. In that respect, because of it I didn't always buy Taylor's voice. It isn't a big deal, it's just something I noticed at the beginning of the story. After all, Taylor wasn't educated for the first half of her life and her main flaw is that she doesn't always take in what's around her. The writing seemed, maturity-wise, a little advanced for her. Of course, I still love the writing and it didn't really bother me. Another pro: the secondary characters manage to be actual CHARACTERS, not just tools used to force the story along. I really appreciated that the world didn't revolve around Taylor; in fact, the other characters often get pissed off at Taylor, and have their own issues to deal with. Overall, Jellicoe Road was a poignant, well-written novel. (Heart-wrenching, too. Did I already mention that?)