I see poorly written smut on display and I get a tiny bit sad on the inside and think that maybe I’ve outgrown YA. That I should be moving on to thicker books filled with characters with more difficult, real-life problems.
And then I’ll come across books like Melina Marchetta’s On the Jellicoe Road and everything is right in the world again.
So whenever people ask me what I like best about my favorite book, I tell them this: It’s the kind of book that should be experienced firsthand.
The first few chapters of On the Jellicoe Road could be a tad confusing because your first impressions are shaped by the limited knowledge that Taylor, the main character, has available to her. I was slightly put off by how the story seems to be populated by hypersensitive and edgy teenagers, but I believe in the power of the Printz Award, so I plowed through and let’s just say that the juice is worth the squeeze.
Though this is a story told in two parts, it is just one: a story about the self and how you define and are defined by others. How to love despite the hurt and imperfections. And how the people you love never truly leave you to deal with life alone.
Marchetta wove together this journey in a way that you won’t realize how much it has owned you until after you have read the last sentence.
It made me feel things and made me cry even though I could not, and still can’t, point exactly what it was that hit me so deep.
To summarize exactly how I feel about On the Jellicoe Road, here is one of my favorite quotes from the book.
“It stirs a nostalgia in me that I have no reason to own, but it makes me ache all the same.”