By Melina Marchetta
2006, HarperTeen, 432 pages
In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.
At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor's the reluctant leader of her school's underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can't avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.
— Amazon.com description
First things first: I didn't know much about this book going in except that multiple sources said that if anyone was going to eclipse my love of Marcus Flutie, it would be Melina Marchetta's Jonah Griggs. So...did he? No! Marcus Flutie 4-eva!
That being said, did I love Jonah Griggs? Yes. Did I love this book? YES!
Oh, what a beautiful, beautiful book. Given that it was the 2008 Printz Award winner, I shouldn't be surprised. But I really am. This book is difficult to get into. It's confusing and told in pieces...but that's the point. As Taylor puts together pieces of information to finally get the full story about her life, the reader is just as confused and clueless and angry and scared as she is. And if you have the patience to sift through things with Taylor, the overall end result will be so worth it.
Plus side: Another Australian book! And this time I'm putting that on the plus side, because honestly once you figure out that "pashing" means "kissing," you've got the most important information you need, in my opinion.
Also on the plus side...Jonah Griggs! I totally see him as Bug from Life, Unexpected. Yes? No? Thoughts?
Down side: I'm not exaggerating when I say that this book requires patience. But the joy of this book is about going along for the journey. It's a well-crafted mystery that's beautifully thought out. Stick with it!
Moral of the story: Twofold...first, this line from the book: "But there's a joy and an abundance of everything, like information and laughter and summer weather and so many stories." Sure, information can be painful, but in Taylor's case, what stands out to me is how much relief information and stories and knowing your own background can bring.
Second: War, what is it good for? The Townies vs. Jellicoe students vs. Cadets war is ruthless and continues year after year without question. But when you learn about how the war first started years ago and the "enemies" start to get to know each other, you start to realize...what is it exactly they're fighting over? Again, information = power!
You might also like:
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty (Marcus, I love you!!!)*
* When I picture you without dreadlocks.
PS: A reliable source says Marcus' next competition is in Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund, so I'll keep you updated!