I have nothing but respect for the Printz awards. In the past they have chosen some truly aMAZing books (like The White Darkness or Looking for Alaska) some not so much my favorites but still, they always choose books just a little bit different, which is what I really like. Each book tends to deal with difficult issues surrounding teens that take my breath away and never fail to get me thinking. 2009's choice is no light-weight either. I've actually had Jellicoe Road in my TBR pile for several months now and just haven't had a chance to pick it up. Now that I've finished it, I'm just kicking myself for not reading it sooner.
Taylor Markham is head of her house at the Jellicoe School, where many of the students, like her, are orphans or have been abandoned by their parents. Taylor was brought to Jellicoe School by the mysterious Hannah after her mom left her at a 7-11 when she was 11. Each year, the students fight the Cadets, who camp near the school for several weeks and the Townies in a type of territory 'war' that determines control over various trails, streams, and buildings in the bush. This year, Taylor has been selected as the school's leader and is more than reticent to participate. Then Hannah unexpectedly disappears and Taylor knows it's connected to the disappearance of her mother and will stop at nothing to find out more. Joined by other students, the mysterious Cadet leader Jonah Griggs, and the Townie Santangelo, Taylor slowly unravels the story of her past and the stories of those she loves most.
To be competely honest, for the first part of the book I was pretty lost. There are several storylines and everyone seemed to have 'history' which made for some confusing reading. But knowing how many people have raved about it, I just kept reading hoping to make sense of it all. And it did. Taylor's story came together with such unexpected beauty that I found myself totally intrigued by each new revelation and it's effect on Taylor and her friends. That's not to say I missed some things along the way - I actually had to reread several parts after finishing becuase I totally missed one major revelation. Oops. But I can't say enough good about this book: there is such heartbreaking sadness, wonder and hope found here that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone.