Friday, November 27, 2009

Fiction, Fantasy, YA: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Bibliographic data
Marchetta, Melina. Jellicoe Road. Harper Teen, New York, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-06-143183-8

Brief plot summary
Taylor Markham has always had questions about her past: Why did my mom leave me and where is she now? Who is Hannah really? and Who am I? With a new year of “Territory Wars” under way, Taylor’s life is turned upside down. Hannah, Taylor’s part house mother, part guardian, leaves unexpectedly, and Jonah Griggs is starting break down the walls that she has built around herself. As pieces of her past start coming together, Taylor knows she needs to find her mom in order to answer her questions, but her only question is “How?”

Critical analysis
Jellicoe Road is a series of complex stories all leading back to the past. Taylor Markham was dropped off at a 7-11 there after an incident that left her mother crazy and desparate. She knows her mom is connected to Hannah is some way, but until reading Hannah’s manuscript, she does not know the extent. As the story progresses, Melina Marchetta brings in characters who try and support Taylor on her journey to figure out who she really is. Marchetta has written each one of these characters to be different in Taylor’s life, from comic relief to emotional support to a love interest. Although very confusing in the beginning, as you get into the story you realize that you do not want to stop reading. Each reader will be able to see a little bit of themselves in Taylor, and the ending will leave you hoping for a sequel.

Review excerpts
School Library Journal: “Elegiac passages and a complex structure create a somewhat dense, melancholic narrative with elements of romance, mystery, and realistic fiction.”
Booklist: “The complexity of the backstory will be offputting to younger readers, but those who stick it out will find rewards in the heartbreaking twists of Marchetta’s saga.”
Kirkus Review: “A beautifully rendered mystery.”
A Michael L. Prinze Award Winner

Activities: In the book, Hannah wrote a book about the adventures of her and her friends. Students will write one story about an adventure that they have had. Readers could also make a map for the "Territory Wars".

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