Jellicoe Road was simply one of the best books that I read for this class, or within the last year. I am a suc...more**spoiler alert** VOYA Codes: S, 5Q, 3P.
Jellicoe Road was simply one of the best books that I read for this class, or within the last year. I am a sucker for braided narratives; they read like a mystery novel for me. This was a great one. I found myself jotting notes to try to figure out how the plot lines connected long before it was evident there was much of a connection. I think that once students get into it (it does take a while for some, although I was instantly hooked) they will feel the same and try to think about how it will fit as well. So, assuming that not all teens are as into that aspect as I am, why else would this appeal to students? The novel begins with a brutal accident, one that can't help but make you root for the children who were left behind. On the other hand, the book is full of the closest types of friendships forming... The kinds of friendships that become family, whether out of need (as is shown here) or just because everyone needs that kind of bond. High school students are beginning to experience that, and to see groups of peers so passionate about friendship is something everyone can relate to... even if it's just something they have always wanted. However, I quickly learned that not everyone was as invested in reading this book as I was. Many of my classmates found the first hundred or so pages to be very confusing and therefore lost interest. For this reason, I would only really recommend it to students who love to read already. In addition, the "war" seems really pointless. Yes, it is explained later in the novel, but it actually makes most reviews sound like it's a science fiction novel or something, and it isn't at all. I think that this plot device, and the scant purpose for it, would distract and annoy many readers. The biggest asset to the best young adult literature is a believable cast of characters, and Marchetta is a little bit hit-or-miss on this one. Some, such as Taylor & Hannah, are incredibly believable. On the other hand, because so little is really known about all of the older cast of characters (particularly Fritz and Jude), these sometimes come off as flat characters, barely more than cardboard stand-ins. To encourage students to read this novel, I would suggest it readily to those who are fans of John Green's Looking for Alaska. Like that already-popular novel, Jellicoe Road addresses boundaries (perhaps more literally) and finding oneself, as well as coping with losses and finding meaning in others. Additionally, the more I read, the more Narnie reminded me of Melinda Sorvino in Laurie Halse Anderson's novel Speak. I was relieved to see that like Melinda, Narnie pulled herself together when crisis dictated that need.(less)
You know that a book about a girl who committed suicide is going to be sad, right? What surprised me, and made Asher's work so much more heartbreaking...moreYou know that a book about a girl who committed suicide is going to be sad, right? What surprised me, and made Asher's work so much more heartbreaking, is how many opportunities there were for someone to turn Hannah's life around. Everyone has a "what if" in the back of their mind... the one in this book is just a more poignant one than most. What if one person would have treated Hannah differently? Would she still be alive?
VOYA Codes: 5P, 4Q, J-S.
Aspects of the work that appeal, or do not appeal to teens: Like the protagonist, teens will be eager to find out why Clay was sent the box of tapes. Hannah’s sense of humor and terrible story of her life’s unraveling are both endearing and sad.
Developmental markers or assets that the work addresses: It is difficult to place any of the developmental assets in correlation to this work. While the protagonist is surrounded by them and exemplifies many, especially caring, the main character is truly Hannah, whose life is sadly devoid of nearly all positive influences. However, I would argue that this absence makes the work what it is and show how terribly awry a teen’s life can go if those aspects are removed.
Are the characters believable? The characters are incredibly believable, and the situations that the encounter are equally believable. Even those characters who are most like a bad teen stereotypes have multiple sides, and those stereotypes are in themselves believable because they are not pushed too far and most teens will realize that these stereotypes exist because there are some people in their lives who truly fit that niche.
How would you promote this book to teens? When I spoke of this text to my sophomore English classes, there was not a single period when jaws didn’t drop and students didn’t gasp or yell. At least two or three students in every hour (usually more) demanded to know whether the school and public libraries carried this book. The concept promotes itself incredibly well, even with the knowledge that the book is going to be a heartbreaker. Once copies were obtained, they were passed around and waiting lists were created. I can easily say that at least 30 of my students read this within the last month and a half of school. There are only 120 students in the sophomore class. I've never seen a book become so popular so quickly that wasn't Harry Potter or Twilight. However, an easy pairing comes with a former Printz nominee and current Margaret Edwards winner. Laurie Halse Anderson’s beautiful novel “Speak” is a fairly popular book that involves a girl in similar situations. Melinda could have been at the end of her rope, but found her own safe spaces. Hannah, on the other hand, begins the downward spiral and instead slowly removes her own safe spaces because she gradually finds that even within those, she is frequently terrorized. (less)
Voya Codes: 5+Q, 3P, S. Never in a million years would I have expected that the myth of Persephone could have been braided so flawlessly with a gut-wr...moreVoya Codes: 5+Q, 3P, S. Never in a million years would I have expected that the myth of Persephone could have been braided so flawlessly with a gut-wrenching story about eating disorders. I am not sure that I would say the characters are believable in this one... Lia's struggle with anxiety and food is completely accurate, but the book has a seriously dream-like quality to it. If they are not realistic characters, I would argue that is because Lia is so removed from reality. This one may not appeal to every student who picks it up; it does really hinge on literary fiction. But I can easily say, a year later, that this book is still on my mind frequently.(less)