Saturday, August 8, 2020

On The Jellicoe Road: Book Review

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Characters in a book are not born of a mother’s womb.
Their inception is almost unfounded tangibly, as they are thickened into existence as a result of a single spark of an idea, and gradually unfold into being. Existing.
Characters may have a physical entity within your memory, but more often than not, they will affect you with their own thoughts and personalities.
Movie characters have a fixed persona and strong impressions. Even so, the actors embody them and become theirs. They are sullied by the actor’s personality and what they put into it. Nowhere else can you fall in love with non tangible, actually non existent in this plane of world, just by reading about them and knowing their thoughts, picking apart fragile pieces of their soul. Books are the only way there.
Soul reaping as in the case of the The Book Thief‘s narrator, Death.

The Book Thief book cover and movie poster
The Book Thief book cover and movie poster

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.”

Far from being a Grim Reaper-like representation, Markus Zusak’s Death is a weary and cynical character with the relatively menial duty of carrying away the souls of the recently deceased.

This is why, when we readers get a glimpse into the minds of writers by reading their stories, we fall, just a little, in love with them.
Or at least, with the characters in the book.
But they are fictional in our realm and construed of a mere thought. This is how and why we wish to escape the reality.
In such a way, the writer of a book becomes the God of his World he is writing about and the fate of all his characters are literally in his hands.

Death is handled like a sticky morning dew droplet in the book, On the Jellicoe Road. Through out the entire story, Melina Marchetta has a firm grip on it.
Entire families die in a silken way.

“We were playing rock, paper, scissor,” she told him once,”I was paper and she was rock so I lived and she died.”

Even in territory wars, what with Joe and the Cadets, the Brigadier, Death is not glorious. I wonder how the shortest lives seem to have been the fullest. The justification of dying for the greater good is questioned. Else why would the survival instinct and prosaic live for progeny be instilled within all of us?

“Is a person worth more because they have someone to grieve for them? Who will be my memory?”

The morbidity and sadness of the entire story is laced with beautiful narration. With the most loyal of friends, brought together thanks to the saddest of circumstances, grief and forgiveness playing major themes, what else could Melina Marchetta handed out to her characters?
Cancer, gunshot wounds, abusive parental authority- throw in a serial killer of children, and it is more than enough for Taylor Markham, the protagonist, to envisage a life of mysterious unhappiness.
Amongst the angst we depend on Taylor Markham to become more level and clear headed for the students and more importantly, for her sake.
The gradual but sure unknotting that the story itself goes through in Taylor Markham’s head is bewildering and breathtaking.

On the Jellicoe Road book review
On the Jellicoe Road book covers

Melina Marchetta wrote her first book Looking for Alibrandi when she was a teenager and has won many awards, including the Printz award, consequently.

“It happened on Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’ve ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-la.”

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