For our first foray into Australian Young Adult Fiction, I’m pulling out what might possibly be my favourite book of all time.
When Taylor Markham was 11 years old, her mother abandoned her at a petrol station on Jellicoe Road. Six years later, she’s made a home for herself at the boarding school down the road, and with Hannah in her half finished house on the school’s property line, and with last year’s seniors on their way out she finds herself responsible for 50 kids, and for leading the annual territory wars against the Cadets and the Townies.
Alongside the story of Taylor, we have Narnie’s story. The story of a car crash 22 years ago that destroyed two families and helped forge a new one.
This book takes a while to really take off, and can be a bit confusing at first, especially if you miss the note about skipping forward 22 years like I did at first, but I’ve yet to meet someone who hadn’t been completely converted by the end. This is a book that after countless rereads still brings me to tears, and I am not a crier. And it’s one that only gets better each time you revisit it.
Like most of Marchetta’s novels, this is not a book afraid to take on heavy issues, and this is not a book filled with happy well adjusted characters. It contains suicide, drug addiction, references to abuse, references to molestation. And Jonah Griggs who, we are told by way of introduction, killed his father.
It’s not a happy novel, but it’s a rewarding one. Filled with characters who warm your heart, and then break it. Filled with some of the ugliest parts of our world, and still managing to be a book about hope and friendship.
This is a book worth reading.