Genre: Social Issues

Uncovering the Secrets of Jellicoe Road (2006, Melina Marchetta)

Uncovering the Secrets of Jellicoe Road (2006, Melina Marchetta)Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Published by Harper Collins on April 6th 2010
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary, Family, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Orphans & Foster Homes, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Goodreads

Suggested age range: 15 and up

“Whatever is now covered up will be uncovered and every secret will be made known.”

I finally read it!! During Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon!! And it was amazing!!

The Book: A tragedy took place on Jellicoe Road. Friendships were forged and flowers were planted. Eighteen years later, Taylor is trying to piece together what happened, and how it relates to her own story of being abandoned by her mother on that same road. When Hannah, who is like a second mother to Taylor, disappears, Taylor does everything she can to figure out where she is. A strange recurring dream of a boy in a tree continues to haunt Taylor, and she senses someone following her. And then there’s her friendship with Jonah Griggs, leader of the Cadets–the social group in constant battle with her own.

Spirituality in Jellicoe Road: We all want to belong within our families, and form valuable connections with our parents, and this is a challenge Taylor encounters in the story. In addition to dealing with the fact that her mother abandoned her on Jellicoe Road, Taylor is navigating the significance of her recurring dream with the boy in the tree, who seems to important. What does it mean for her life, whether it’s her past, present, or future? This aspect in the story got me thinking about the notion of dreams as spiritual. Are our dreams important and how we do figure out what they mean? If you know me at all, you know I find dreams fascinating, so of course I was highly intrigued by this part of the book.

Who Should Read This Book: Whether you are a fan of Marchetta’s high fantasy, such as Finnikin of the Rock or E. Lockhart’s contemporary YA, We Were Liars, I’m pretty sure you will enjoy Jellicoe Road. Marchetta’s beautiful prose reminded me of the gorgeous imagery from Finnikin, while the mystery of the plot and its companion narrative made me think about Lockhart’s text. At first I was pretty confused, trying to figure out the connections between the two different storylines, but it gets easier as you go along, so don’t let this deter you.

The Final Word: This book was published in 2006, and it’s taken me so long to read it! Its unforgettable plot and spiritual dimensions, however, drew me to review it on the blog. I believe it is not to be missed—you just have to be ok with crying. Ok, maybe crying a lot.

Get your box of tissues, and step onto Jellicoe Road as soon as you can.

Have you read Jellicoe Road? What did you think??

What Katie Read

Exploring The Mystery of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (2014)

Exploring The Mystery of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (2014)We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Published by Random House Children's Books on May 13th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 240
Goodreads
four-stars

Suggested age range: 13 and up

The Book: Cadence is part of a privileged family: the Sinclairs. But like many families, this family harbors secrets. Summers find Cadence with her family on their private island off the coast of Massachusetts. There, she becomes part of the “liars,” a group including herself, her two cousins, and a grafted in “cousin,” Gat. They sneak out together, they get in trouble together, but when the summer ends, they each go their separate ways. Except for one summer. What secret is the family holding back from Cadence of that fateful summer, and what happened that she is desperately trying to remember?

Spirituality in We Were Liars: Topics like greed, racism, and dysfunctional family relationships in a story can certainly make room for spirituality. Without giving anything away, I will point out that the issue of materialism surfaces in the story—and one character’s response to this excessive greed is an interesting aspect of the narrative. Feel free to let me know in the comments your thoughts on these aspects of the story!

Who Should Read This Book: If you can read and you like a beautifully written story with a mystery at its heart, you need to sit down with The Liars. You owe it to yourself to visit this island off the coast of Massachusetts, and learn about the Sinclairs with all their flaws. Whether you like a good contemporary realistic novel or a thought-provoking mystery, I’m certain you’ll find something in this story to enjoy. This is the kind of book that kept me close to the page, tracing it for hints as to what really happened during “Summer 15” for the Liars.

The Final Word: Lockhart’s prose is clever, crisp, and beautiful. I hadn’t read anything by her before, but now I plan to change that. I appreciate her style, and I was glued to this story for several days. My only regret is that it had been longer. Now, I’m planning a re-read, especially since I want to return and scour the pages for clues. An unreliable narrator can really make a narrative more fascinating, and Lockhart expertly weaves a story that you will be thinking about long after you have closed the book.

 

 

 

four-stars
What Katie Read

Compassion & Love in 1930s Munich: Prisoner of Night and Fog (2014) by Anne Blankman

Compassion & Love in 1930s Munich: Prisoner of Night and Fog (2014) by Anne BlankmanPrisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Published by Harper Collins on April 22nd 2014
Genres: Europe, Historical Fiction, Holocaust, People & Places, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Goodreads
five-stars

Suggested age range: 13 and up

The Book: Gretchen is living in 1930s Munich—a time of rapid change, uncertainty, and darkness. Though her father is dead and she misses him terribly, Gretchen goes to school and dreams of one day becoming a doctor. She is adored by her “Uncle Dolf”, a close family friend…who just happens to be Hitler. And he is growing in power. It isn’t until Gretchen receives a message from a Jewish reporter about her father’s death that she begins to question all she has been led to believe about Uncle Dolf and what is happening in Germany. What begins as a search for information about what happened to her father turns into a dangerous and risky adventure that will affect Gretchen and her family far more than she thought.

Spirituality in Prisoner of Night and Fog: One reason why I appreciate books set during World War II so much is because of the way these stories often illuminate the simple bravery, compassion, and love found within people. Though there is also the very real juxtaposition of the battle between good and evil in such stories, these books highlight how people make sacrifices for one another, sometimes even for people they don’t know, because it is simply “the right thing to do.” This story expertly depicts how a person might be raised with a particular worldview, but that perspective can either deepen or change as other viewpoints come into focus. Gretchen’s character reflects someone who desires to connect meaningfully with others, and is not afraid to go after what is right.

Who Should Read This Book: If you liked The Book Thief or Code Name Verity or just a good historical novel with intrigue, suspense, and some romance, you should certainly pick up this new release by Blankman. I read this in one afternoon, and was thinking about the book for several days afterwards. What would it have been like to be a family member or close friend of Hitler’s? From the first page, readers will be drawn into an exciting story set within a turbulent and significant time in history.

The Final Word: I loved this book! It was one of my highly anticipated releases by a debut author for 2014, and I was not disappointed. I read the book as part of Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon and I would have read it all in one day, even if I hadn’t participated in the read-a-thon. The pace of the story was perfect, and the development of Gretchen’s character was not too rushed. I was very interested in her as a character—Blankman has created a female protagonist whose story I am anxious to know about when the next installment is released.

 

five-stars
What Katie Read
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