Review: Looking for Alibrandi

Review: Looking for AlibrandiTitle: Looking for Alibrandi
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 5, 1992
Genre/Age Group: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: Gifted
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 4 Stars

For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it’s just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it’s her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn’t be any stricter—but that doesn’t seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.

Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the nononsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josephine is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family’s past—and the year she sets herself free.

Told with unmatched depth and humor, this novel—which swept the pool of Australian literary awards and became a major motion picture—is one to laugh through and cry with, to cherish and remember.

my thoughts

Looking for Alibrandi is my last Marchetta, and just knowing the fact that there’s currently no book of hers I have yet to read is very upsetting, as I have been on a Marchetta binge since the start of this year. In that time (after the first book, really) she has already climbed her way up to the very top of my favorite authors list, and she’s probably never going to disappear from there. It’s funny that I ended my binge with Alibrandi, as it is both Marchetta’s very first novel (this was published in 1992, holy shit) and the one Ellis told me to start with (oops). It’s also interesting because I don’t think I would have appreciated this novel in the same way if I hadn’t already read Marchetta’s other novels. That’s not to say that I’m blinded by my love for her by now, because that’s not it, but there is just something about the simplicity of Marchetta’s writing that might have been lost on me, and I’m very glad I read this book at this time.

Looking for Alibrandi is the story of Josephine Alibrandi, who lives in Australia but comes from an Italian background. Her mother is a single mom, cast out by her parents when she got pregnant as a teenager, and her grandmother is very strict and dismissive of everything Australian, still abiding by the Italian rules. Throughout the story, Josie deals with her final year in high school, her ethnic and cultural background, her father showing up out of the blue and regular things like friends and boys. Even though I don’t think this is Marchetta’s best novel – by far, I still love that it is apparently considered a classic in Australia, mostly because it teaches people not to be dismissive of literature about and meant for teenagers (and teenage girls in particular). The high school drama in this story is never dismissed as “silly teenage behavior” or “something Josie has to grow out of”, which is something I think is very important and very necessary today.

There are more important themes that Alibrandi addresses, and the most important of which is definitely immigration. Even if we don’t focus primarily on Australia, immigration is a topic that is very often ignored or addressed from the side of the people living in the country to which other people migrate. But it is so important, especially in our current society, and I’m so very glad this book talks about it. Josie’s grandmother immigrated from Italy when she was just a girl, married off to an Italian who took her with him to Australia, and through her stories to Josie, we find out exactly how difficult that was – not only for her, but for all Australian immigrants. But the book also talks about Josie, and her struggles of determining her own identity because of her half-Italian background. She is stuck between two cultures, in a country that still very much rejects Italian descendents as being “real” Australians, from a culture that refuses to move forward because that would mean a loss of everything they still remember about their home country. Honestly, this aspect of the novel was absolutely fantastic, and so, so important, and I wish more books addressed this.

Then there is the issue of family and Josie’s search to understand both her grandmother’s and her mother’s histories, and see where she herself fits into the story. My favorite aspect of the novel, by far, was the relationship between Josie and Christina and Katia. Oh, it was definitely a rough one, and there is still so much more to be discussed between them even as the novel is finished, but the relationship between these three is just incredible. All three of them are emotional and loud and they fight as often as they cuddle up next to each other, and I loved every second of it. I also really liked how Josie’s father came into the story, not merely as someone who is back to shake up their lives, or someone who is easily accepted and forgiven, but as someone who, despite his initial refusal, slowly grows to fit inside their family. Still, this book is all about the Alibrandi women, and their stories are phenomenal.

Still, the absolute highlight of this novel for me was Josie Alibrandi herself. She is probably the loudest, most dramatic, most emotional main character I have ever read about (her melodramatics even beat Georgia Nicolson at times, though she is slightly less over the top) and I love her so much it hurts a little. Josie is smart without being obnoxious about it, though she’s definitely aware of it. She’s also very self-centered at times, and she knows it. She is 100% confident in her own personality and dramatic behavior, even though she definitely learns to be a little less egotistical throughout the novel. She grows quite a bit throughout the novel and even though she has trouble with determining her cultural background, she never rejects her own behavior and feelings. I loved that about her. She is also vulnerable and sweet and caring, and just absolutely fabulous and hilarious. I wish my words would do her justice.

Besides the incredibly well-written cultural and familiar aspects, Looking for Alibrandi is also still a story about a teenage girl going through high school. Josie struggles a bit with her friends, who may not all be very nice to her, and potential boyfriends. This book also has some kind of love triangle, but this is one of the few triangles that actually felt realistic to me. Yes, it’s still about two boys liking Josie, but it’s never as dramatic as in most YA novels with this trope. Neither of the boys loudly declare their love for Josie immediately. Rather, it’s this thing where Josie has liked one boy for a very long time, but then another one comes along, and as she grows to like him more, she starts to like the first boy less. It all felt so completely natural, and I love that the romance never once took over from the rest of the story. It was just an aspect of Josie’s life, and sometimes it was her main focus, but it never once made her family and friends less prominent.

All in all, I really loved Looking for Alibrandi. It took me a little while to get invested in it and it’s still not my favorite Marchetta, but it is so important to me all the same. I love this book especially because, like Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son especially, it just felt so natural to me. There is a certain down-to-earthness about Marchetta’s writing, which may seem weird because I am also convinced she is made of magic, but even when her stories are loud and dramatic and intense, they are simple and natural and calm. I know this is probably one of the weirdest things I’ve ever said in a review, but this is really the only way I know how to describe it. I love Looking for Alibrandi for the not-all-encompassing romance and the very-important friendships and the new family relationship with Michael Andretti. I love it for the Australian setting and the Italian community and the fancy Catholic school. I love it for Katia’s story and Christina’s strength and Josie’s dramatics. I love it for the Alibrandi family.

memorable quotes

“I don’t think you deserve my company, but I feel sorry for you, so I’ll say yes.”

“I hope you won’t be boasting.”
“Of course I will.”
“I’ve created a monster.”

“Do you know how frustrating it is? Why can’t these people understand that this is my country as well? Why do I feel like cursing this country as much as I adore it? When will I find the answers, and are there ever going to be answers or change?”

“Like all tomato days we had spaghetti that night. Made by our own hands. A tradition we’ll never let go. A tradition that I probably will never let go of either, simply because like religion, culture is nailed into you so deep you can’t escape it. No matter how far you fun.”

“I prayed and cried that night, harder than I ever had in my life. I prayed that “one day” would come so I could welcome it with open arms. And I cried because I was loved by two of the strongest women I would ever meet in my lifetime.”

Review: The Devil You Know

Review: The Devil You KnowTitle: The Devil You Know
Author: Trish Doller
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Genre/Age Group: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 5 Stars

Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun.

They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

my thoughts

I have good news and bad news. I’ll start by telling y’all the good news first: The Devil You Know, Trish Doller’s third book, is as fabulous as her first two. And, as y’all already know from my endless lovefest, her first two books cemented her as one of my all-time favorite authors. Now, for the bad, terrible AWFUL news: I have no more new Trish Doller books on my shelf to read! *agonizes* *hugs Travis Stephenson, err, my copy of Something Like Normal, for comfort*

Okay, okay, back to the business at hand: convincing y’all why you should read The Devil You Know if you haven’t already! ;) The Devil You Know is quite different from Trish’s first two books, Something Like Normal and Where the Stars Still Shine. Trish Doller fans, don’t be alarmed by this, because the same elements that we know and love so much from her first two books are present in this one too: a strong main female character, a swoony male lead, sexy romantic tension, and amazing storytelling.  The difference? Everything is not quite as it initially seems for the main character, Cadie, and this seemingly innocent contemporary morphs into a spine-tingling thriller about halfway into the book (of course, it’s not a total surprise when this happens, since the title and cover of the book suggest a darker tone than her previous books).

Cadie is a headstrong 18-year-old, newly graduated, and basically the “mother” to her 4-year-old baby brother Danny, aka Daniel Boone (another thing that Trish does well: writes children into her books that will melt your heart. Remember Greg’s two boys in WtSSS? Daniel Boone is just as adorable!). Cadie & Danny’s mom died from cancer, and their dad is still having a very difficult time picking up the pieces. He relies on Cadie waaaay too much, to the point where it’s totally not fair to her. She doesn’t get to be a teenage girl at all, which causes the little rebellious streak that she has at the beginning of the book that leads her to make some stupid decisions (that also make for a hella interesting book! haha). Cadie meets two incredibly handsome cousins, Noah and Matt, at a party in the woods, one thing leads to another, and she ends up going off with these strangers on a weekend camping/road/canoe trip. As you already know from the synopsis above, that turns out to be a baaad idea.

I will say that this book is a unique thriller, in that it takes a while for the “thriller” part of the book to heat up. The first half of the book feels like a sweet contemporary with a summer romance, and then. THEN. Things start getting weird. But still, the weirdness/creepiness doesn’t happen all at once. It trickles in a little at a time for a while. I would read a few pages and think, “hmm, that’s odd,” but then Noah would say something sweet and I’d forget all about it. ;) Dammit, Trish, distracting us with a sexy guy (it totally worked). haha. I really liked the way that this book was set up though. I liked the slow burn between Cadie and her mysterious strangers. I liked that the eeriness took a while to enter the story. But I do want readers to be aware of this and know that it isn’t like (forgive me for not thinking of a better example) Pretty Little Liars, for instance, where dead bodies and black-hooded people turn up right and left from the very beginning.

Another thing that Trish Doller does well is incorporate the setting into the story so that it feels like a character in itself, and it’s no different in The Devil You Know. Cadie lives in a small town in Florida called High Springs. This is where the party is that Cadie goes to, and it sets the stage for the rest of the book. Noah and Matt, the two handsome strangers she meets there, are “camping” their way through the Florida wilderness, and when they invite Cadie along with them, it becomes clear that canoeing, sleeping outside under the stars, wilderness, and, most notably, isolation, will be a recurring theme. It’s amazing how Trish can make this a completely romantic setting in one scene and a terrifyingly sinister one in another scene, but she does it perfectly. The “wilderness” setting allowed the group to go to some unusual places that I’ve never seen in a YA book, and I enjoyed it immensely. For instance, at one stop, they encountered Naked Ed, who is literally NAKED (except for a loin cloth) and somewhat of a legend in that area. It adds a cute, humorous moment to the story.

The Devil’s Chair is another “legendary” stop on the way, which is in a graveyard. Some creepy/sexy shenanigans happen there, and my heart was pounding as I waited for something awful to happen. On their way to the Devil’s Chair, they also find a carnival to stop at. Strange fact about me– I LOVE carnivals in books, I think mainly because they remind me of a couple of times from my own life when I had a blast riding ferris wheels and eating cotton candy. So, imagine my surprise when I come across a scene in The Devil You Know that basically reenacts a moment from my own “carnival” memories! In it, Matt and Noah play this game (shooting metal ducks or rabbits or something of the kind), trying their best to win the grand prize for Cadie: a stuffed “Nemo” fish that she says her brother would love. During my own senior year, two of my best friends did the same thing for me, trying for THE EXACT SAME PRIZE. It was too big of a coincidence for me NOT to include photographic proof of us below.

The guys that we were with BOTH won a stuffed Nemo, so both of us girls ended up with one. ;)

The guys that we were with BOTH won a stuffed Nemo, so both of us girls ended up with one. ;)

Crazy, right? ahaha. Anyway. The final location where the group ends up is the most unusual, creepy, epic setting– a place that was evacuated due to a hurricane and is basically deserted. As you can imagine, that quadruples the “thriller” element of this book. My heart was POUNDING as Cadie navigated this deserted swamp, and it was the PERFECT setting this book.

I got to meet Trish Doller (!!!!!!) a few weeks ago at the Memphis stop of Bloomsbury’s Boldly Bookish tour, and I was lucky enough to get to hear her discuss a little bit about The Devil You Know. She mentioned that CALLIE, her main character in Where the Stars Still Shine, is often referred to as a slut (ugh, I just HATE that word), even though Callie is very complex character who has been through a traumatic experience and hasn’t had a strong parental figure in her life. According to Trish, this reaction helped her develop CADIE’S character, a girl who is strong and strong-willed, who has had a very involved mom in her life who taught her that having sex with someone DOES NOT define who you are as a person. Cadie keeps these values close to her heart, and when she’s ready to have sex, she knows it, she’s SMART about it, and she’s not sorry. She even remarks that “no one told me the first time could be good.” I love everything about Cadie’s character, and this is yet another reason that I think she’s an important addition to YA literature. She offers a sex-positive example, which is all too rare in YA. Another reason that I will promote The Devil You Know any chance I get!

Okay, I suppose I should wrap up my long, rambling review even though I’d LOVE to gush about my new book boyfriend (who follows very closely behind Travis Stephenson!) and other little details that I enjoyed such as Cadie’s best friend Duane, her lifelong friendships with the Kendrick twins, and Cadie’s thoughts on life in a small town. I don’t want to get TOO detailed though, because part of the fun in reading The Devil You Know for the first time is the surprising moments that will make you gasp out loud! If I could give you one more piece of advice, it would be to NOT read the last part of the book if while you’re home alone. Or do, if you don’t mind being scared out of your wits like I was. ;)

memorable quotes

Taken from the ARC.

“If Matt was the Fourth of July, Noah is a summer thunderstorm, and I’m at a loss to understand why. I know that I’m suffering from a raging case of lust at first sight, but isn’t that how it’s supposed to start? We shouldn’t just open up the boxes of our lives and dump them at each other’s feet. We should life the flaps one by one and peek inside.”

“I appreciate that my dad’s life sucks sometimes too. There are nights I lean against the wall outside his door, wanting to knock. Touching the pencil mark on the frame from the last time he measured me there. Wanting him to invite me in. Pressing my ear against the wood grain as if I might hear his thoughts. Wanting to share in the bit of Mom that’s still left in that room. But I’m afraid I’ll break him more than he’s already been broken.”

“…who is this strange girl who lets two guys kiss her on the same day? I mean, I believe a girl can kiss as many guys as she damn well pleases and not have to feel bad about it. She can even do more than kiss someone if she wants. I’m just not sure I’m brave enough to be that girl.”

“‘How do I know you’re not the devil?’ I whisper, my lips touching his. I can feel his smile against my mouth, even in the dark. ‘Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,’ he whispers in reply as his fingers tiptoe up my back.”

“What kind of girl are you?… [Losing your virginity is] not going to change you into anyone other than who you want to be.” 

“No one ever tells you that your first time can feel good.”

“When I was little, my favorite bedtime story was Scuffy the Tugboat, about a toy boat who felt too big for the toy store that contained him. He goes from bathtub to stream to river to the edge of the sea, where he realizes that maybe there is a limit to his bigness. For most of my life I’ve ignored the part where- just as he’s about to sail off into the vastness of the ocean- a hand reaches out and brings him back to the safety of the bathtub. Right here, right now, I’d give anything to be in my own bathtub with Daniel Boone on the other side of the door, telling me he needs to go potty. Because there’s a good chance I won’t make it home. And it may be too late to hope for a hand that will bring me back.” **

** Yet another thing that I have in common with Cadie – Scuffy the Tugboat was one of my favorite books as a child. It was one of the few children’s books that my great-grandparents had at their house, and I remember reading it EVERY time I went to their house (which was almost every day!). I loved the part where Scuffy made it back to the safety of his bathtub.

June in Review

june

we did

Judith: June was all about finishing up the second year of my Bachelor’s. I had more free time than in May, which is why I managed to read three books, but it was still very busy. I started a new job in May (working as a PA for an independent publisher) which is amazing so far, and I also finished up my year at Writer’s Block Magazine, of which I’m going to be Editor-in-Chief next year! Other than that, I went to a modern dance show, a wedding, an event in my hometown that celebrated the Golden Age here in the Netherlands, an event at my uni with lectures about Tolkien, and a lot of drinks. Even though the end of the month was, again, super stressful for me and I was sick a few times during the month, June was still pretty good. It’s currently over 30 degrees and I couldn’t be happier.

judithjune2

Ellis: For some reason, June felt like a very long month for me. Not in a bad way, just that the beginning of the month, and all the thesis-induced stress it brought with it, now seems so long ago. In short, I handed in my thesis, had my last exam ever, and while I don’t have all my grades back yet, I’ll (probably) be graduating this Sunday. So that, combined with work, was my (non-)life the first half of June. After that I finally had time to read, sleep, and see friends I hadn’t seen in a long time again. We had a few family get togethers. One of my brothers is starting a two-year study in Paris soon and everyone is more or less doing their own way this summer, so it was one of the last chances to get everyone together for months. I was also supposed to have a mini-reunion with some of my high school friends, but I had to fill in for one of my colleagues last minute, so I sadly couldn’t go. I’ll see them soon, though, since one of them has a baby due during the following weeks and we’ve made plans to collectively storm the hospital and make ourselves comfortable, which I’m sure is going to be super appreciated by the staff and her family. Oh well.

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Ellice: June was a good month for me. I’m really sad to see it go! It was insanely busy at work, what with freshman orientation, trying to get all of the books ordered and cataloged before the end of the budget year, and teaching library instruction classes to English comp students. However, I managed to have a little fun during all of the chaos, namely attending the Memphis stop of Bloomsbury’s Boldly Bookish tour that included Trish Doller, Emery Lord, A.C. Gaughen and Tiffany Schmidt! EEEP! My fangirling went into overdrive when they asked me to join them for drinks right before the event started. I can’t even begin to describe how awesome all of those ladies are. They were so welcoming, amazingly supportive and FUN (seriously, my cheeks were sore from laughing so much!). I left the event with lots of signed books, a $25 gift certificate + arcs + a TDYK-inspired necklace (I won the bookstore’s giveaway! WHEEEE!), bookmarks, GUMMY BODY PARTS (thanks Tiffany! haha), and lots of pictures! I can’t wait to spend time with these ladies again.

The other exciting book news of the month? I opened my arc of Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally to discover that she had included me in the acknowledgements. It’s no surprise that Hundred Oaks is one of my favorite YA series, so I was so excited and truly honored to read an early draft of JG. Thanks for that opportunity, Miranda! Unfortunately with it being so insane at work in June, my reading and blogging took a major hit, but thank goodness, I’m definitely getting back on track, currently reading JELLICOE ROAD much to the delight of my cobloggers. Also, thanks to Ellis who was an absolute sweetheart and gifted me the book just because. MWAH!

ellicejuly2

read more…

Top Ten Books of 2015 (So Far)

ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

So this is obviously a little more than ten because all three of us are participating this time, but we couldn’t help it. We like talking about our favorites, okay? And we have all read some incredible books so far in 2015.

read more…

Review: Jellicoe Road

Review: Jellicoe RoadTitle: Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: August 26, 2008
Genre/Age Group: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: Gifted
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 5 Stars

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.

my thoughts

There is a quote from Jellicoe Road that sums up how I feel not only about this book, but about Melina Marchetta’s novels in general: “I fall in love with these kids over and over again and my heart aches for their tragedies and marvels at their friendship.” It is such a simple line and yet it encompasses exactly the beauty of her work, that je ne sais quoi I have never experienced with another author. She captures such large feelings with such simple statements, and her stories make my heart burst with emotion. I know I repeat myself in every review I write about one of her books, but it is impossible to capture the magic of Marchetta in words. Believe me, I’ve tried. When I started reading this book, people warned me that it would take a while to really make sense, but I never really experienced it like that. For me, it was mostly that I struggled a bit to picture the setting, but other than that, I fell in love during the very first chapter.

Reading another one of Marchetta’s novels feels a bit like coming home, and again, I am so angry with myself for only having started to read her books this year. It’s not often that I come across an author whose works have become so important to me in such a short amount of time, but Marchetta will forever be one of my favorite authors. Jellicoe Road consists of two storylines, twenty years apart. One story is about Taylor, Jonah, Raffy, Santangelo and Ben, the other about Narnie, Webb, Tate, Jude and Fitz. All of them are a little bit lonely, all of them a little bit lost, and they are connected by the Jellicoe Road. It is this road and its surroundings where most of the story plays out, a story that has got to be one of the most poignant and hauntingly, achingly beautiful stories I have ever read (right there with Marchetta’s other novels, of course). On the Jellicoe Road, Taylor was abandoned by her mother at age eleven. On the Jellicoe Road, Narnie saw her father die. And on the Jellicoe Road, their paths cross, and their stories intertwine.

The story starts when Taylor Markham is chosen to be the leader in the annual territory wars played by the Jellicoe School students (of whom Taylor is the leader), the Cadets camping in the area for a couple of weeks each year (led by Jonah Griggs), and the Townies from Jellicoe itself (who follow Chaz Santangelo). It’s funny because Jellicoe Road is probably Marchetta’s darkest (at least contemporary) novel, but the territory wars made me laugh so hard. It’s just these kids strategizing and tricking each other and just hanging out with each other. I really loved this aspect of the novel, because it brought a lightness that was much needed in the story. It showed that these kids are still just that: kids, who need to run free and have fun. So in the midst of all the terror and hurt and anger of this novel, the territory wars and the boarding school setting were a welcome change, and I love the juxtaposition of these different aspects. Also, can I please move to Jellicoe and play war with all of them? It’s honestly a new dream.

I can explain in words how much I love Taylor. She is dark and moody and wild and blunt and lost and confused and angry and probably not easy to like for everyone, but I loved her immediately. She reminded me a bit of Francesca Spinelli, and they probably would have been very similar characters if Taylor had grown up in Frankie’s loving family instead of being abandoned by her mom at such a young age. But Taylor is all alone, and it broke my heart. She may not be the most likeable of characters, but that’s perhaps why I could relate to her so much. There is also Jonah Griggs, whom I have heard many people yell about before I even started this book. Griggs is just as lost and lonely and angry as Taylor, and that is why they understand each other so well. I don’t often fall head over heels for the romance in a novel, but god, did these two get to me. Their tension and teasing was as amazing as their mutual understanding and warmth towards one another. I don’t think I will ever be able to capture their relationship into words, but just know that it got to me like barely any other relationship ever does. They are so, so intense, and I can’t get enough.

I also really want to talk about Raffy and Santangelo, both of whom are absolutely wonderful and who are even better together. Raffy is the best friend Taylor could ask for, and honestly one of the smartest, nicest people in the entire story. I loved her so much. Santangelo was raised by women and is made from the same stuff as Tom Mackee (The Piper’s Son) and Lucian of the Monts (Finnikin of the Rock). It’s their bluntness and honesty and, very often, stupidity that makes me love these three so much, and Santangelo is just adorable. Raffy and Santangelo together are just as incredible as Taylor and Griggs, but in a completely different way. Where Taylor and Griggs’s relationship is filled with tension and explosions, Raffy and Santangelo’s is like a warm bath, both of them so comfortable with each other the way you only can be when you have grown up with each other. There is one scene in the novel where Raffy is ordering kids around in an emergency situation, but Santangelo shows up, takes one look at her and says her name, and she breaks down completely, and it was the most beautiful, heartbreaking thing. Unsurprisingly, I cried.

So when Taylor’s story starts to intertwine with Narnie’s, we start to get a taste of how dark this book is really is, but I can’t talk too much about this because one of the strongest points of the novel is finding out what is going on as you go. I did find out the mystery very early on in the novel and that changed how I felt about that later on a little bit, but it still overwhelmed me completely. Narnie’s story made me cry just as much as Taylor’s, and honestly, by the end of the novel I was just unable to deal with any of it. The thing about Jellicoe Road is that there are so many incredible moments and so many things I want to talk about and so many scenes I want to reread over and over again (because Marchetta’s writing, man), but half of this novel’s impact lies in experiencing the story as you go along, so I can’t say much. This book ripped my heart out of my chest, stomped on it a few times and then tore it apart. You know, in the best way. This is definitely Marchetta’s darkest and most intense novel, and god, do I love it so very much.

memorable quotes

“As I walk past the other cell I see Santangelo sitting on the floor with his back against the bars, his head in his hands, and Jonah Griggs standing, watching me. Like he did on that station platform. Like he did those times we lay side by side on our way to Yass. Staring like he’s never stopped.”

“He wanted to belong to them. With them he found solace.”

“Hold my hand,” she said, sobbing against him. “Hold my hand because I might disappear.”

“Do you ever wonder how someone our age can possibly be dead? There’s just something really unnatural about it.”
I watch his face as he tries to explain.
“If you saw the photo you’d understand. You’d want to say to the kid in it, ‘Why weren’t you strong enough to resist death? Didn’t that look in your eye stop anything bad from happening to you?'”

“So, like I asked, what’s with the nightie?”
“It smells like what I always think mothers smell like,” I tell him honestly, knowing I don’t have to explain.
He nods. “My mum has one just the same and you have no idea how disturbing it is that it’s turning me on.”

“What do you want from me?” he asks.
What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him.
More.

Griggs looks up at us. “What happens when she’s not my memory anymore? What happens when she’s not around to tell me about his belt leaving scars across my two-year-old brother’s face or when he whacked her so hard she lost her hearing for a week? Who’ll be my memory?”
Santangelo doesn’t miss a beat. “I will. Ring me.”
“Same,” Raffy says.
I look at him. I can’t even speak because if I do I know I’ll cry but I smile and he knows what I’m thinking.

“I fall in love with these kids over and over again and my heart aches for their tragedies and marvels at their friendship.”

“Do you think I don’t want him to be gone more than you do? I do. Because I need to know that I can still breathe properly when he’s not around. If something happens to him, I have to know that I won’t fall apart like View Spoiler ».”

“He’s in year eight, Teresa,” I remind her. “That means he’s coming back at least another three times.”
“But just say he forgets about me or meets someone else or pretends I don’t exist.”
I look at her and then at Trini and Raffy.
“Teresa, Teresa. Have we taught you nothing?” Raffy says in an irritated voice. “It’s war. You go in and you hunt him down until he realises that he’s made a mistake.”
Teresa looks hopeful.
“It’s not as if men haven’t gone to war for dumber reasons,” Trini adds.