Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Taylor Markham was only 11-years-old when her mother abandoned her at a 7-Eleven on Jellicoe Road.  Luckily, a kind young woman named Hannah found Taylor there and took her in.  Taylor is now 17-years-old, still lives at the boarding school where Hannah first brought her, and is having an extremely difficult time dealing with Hannah’s sudden/unexplained disappearance.  Obviously, her prior experience of abandonment has made this current situation even harder to bear.

In addition to her personal drama, Taylor is also responsible for being a student leader at her school and for leading a group of students in the traditional game of “territory wars” — against “the Townies” and “the Cadets.”   Sneak attacks, physical violence, and property/land negotiations between the three groups of students are to be expected.  Things are way more complicated than they have ever been before, though, because it’s more than just a game to Taylor.  She is starting to have feelings for Jonah Griggs, the leader of the Cadets, and she thinks that Jonah may also be the key to figuring out the true identity and location of her mother.

Lots of back-story, Australian terminology, and a dual narrative can make this a rather difficult story to follow.  The fact that it won the Printz Award, though, is more than enough reason to push yourself through the confusion toward an, ultimately, satisfying ending.

Happy Reading!

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