Plot Summary: Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.
I picked up a copy of this because it one the Printz award. Until it won, I hadn’t heard of it. The libraries didn’t even have a copy yet. So I picked one up, then settled down to read.
For the first two chapters, I had no idea what was going on. I’m a very determined reader, and it’s rare that I set aside a book without finishing. Especially so early in the beginning. But, if this book hadn’t won the Printz, I would have set it aside. It was hurting my head trying to sort everything out – and I love a intricate and twisty plot, so this is saying something.
As with all my book discussions, there are SPOILERS below.
The story opens with two separate stories being told at the same time. Taylor’s story was clearly the main story, and it took me three chapters to figure out that the other story was even a story. Then, it took a few more chapters to figure out that this second story is where the “wars” came from, and that it started among friends as a fun thing to do. This information would have helped me tremendously in the beginning. Instead, we’re dropped into a hostile environment where everyone knows the intricacies of a vicious and violent territory war.
I get that the author was staying within Taylor’s head, and not “telling” us what she knows. Rather, she attempted to show us by showing us the situation and characters. It gave me a clear picture of the characters, but I was confused about the situation for a long time.
First confusing point: Taylor is the head of her House (dorm) at the Jellicoe boarding school. And, Taylor is made the school’s leader in the territory wars. It took me forever to sort out the difference between them, and what each role entailed.
Next confusing point: I had no idea who Hannah was, or how important she was to Taylor until well into the book. A little bit of pondering on Taylor’s part would have helped this a lot. All she would have had to do was wonder whether Hannah was her legal guardian, since she sometimes acted like it and sometimes not. That would have made their relationship clear from the start.
Once the story gets going and these things are made clear, however, it’s gripping. Taylor sometimes jumps to conclusions a bit too easily and quickly, but her character is still strong and likable. She’s on a self-exploring journey, and we’re along for the ride.
In the end, all the plot points are tied together nicely. But not in a neat little package – the ending is realistic and enjoyable. The only thing that seemed plot device-y was the serial killer, and how he was tied to Taylor.
Overall, this was an enjoyable book, despite the confusing beginning, and worth the read.