I do not think I have ever read a book like On The Jellicoe Road.
Every once in a while you read a book that deals you an emotional blow in more than one way, by throwing you through the ringer of the tragedies of it's characters and their triumphs, and at the same exact time forcing you to work through your own. On The Jellicoe Road is that kind of book-- only on a level that far exceeds.
I was forwarned before reading this book that the beginning would confuse and confound me-- probably for the first quarter of the book. I'm glad I was given the warning. There is so much jumping back and forth and confusion that you feel completely caught in a story that you cannot break apart from Taylor's mind frame and the hidden history in Hannah's manuscript-- they all blur together and try as hard as you might, separating them is near impossible. Having finished the book, I find this the most genius part of it. I was trying so hard to do exactly what Taylor was trying to do, dissect her past and identify her place within her present because of it, that her confusion had become my own and once I realized that, I knew I was a goner. I would not put this book down for the life of me.
When the history of herself and Griggs came to light, becoming something she denied but wanted and didn't know how to place until she'd identified all the false memories and true stories and flesh and blood and identities-- I cried. When his own broken past came to light, and the way it connected the two of them so closely, I cried and found myself thinking of similiar things in my life, taking Taylor's own words on her connection with Griggs at the height of their emotional roller coaster ride as the exact way to describe my own relationship:
Because being a part of him isn't just anything. It's kind of everything.
I cried for Jessa and Chloe P. I cried for Raffy and Chaz, and for the way their families absorbed those who had none, and the affect it had on Taylor and Griggs. I cried for Webb and Fitz and Tate and Jude and Narnie. I cried for Griggs. I cried for Taylor. I cried for myself.
I cried until my boyfriend told me to put my book down and stop reading things that were sad-- and at that point, I had finished the book for a few minutes and was still staring off into space, thinking, pondering, crying.
"I remember asking, 'What's the
difference between a trip and a journey?' and my father said, 'Narnie, my love, when we get there, you'll understand.'"
This book was a journey, in every sense of the word. A wonderfully rocking, emotional journey that leaves you with an aching sadness and the outlines of hope. This book brought me through my own past and drew connections I never thought I would make with a story the way that I did this. I'm not even quite sure I am ready to explain just what this book brought to light, and the way it is already changing the way I have viewed certain events in my life. It may take me a while to actually be able to work through all it brought up, but I see that outline of hope, and I know this was a read I will never regret.