From the Bookshelf

A few notes on some of my recent reads

Jellico Road

I picked this up from the library a few weeks back. I remember hearing the name some time ago, but didn’t know anything about the book, just that it had some buzz. It’s the story of seventeen-year old Taylor, a girl at a boarding school trying to discover her identity. That was  bit of a flag to me right away. So many young adult books use the boarding school backdrop as a means of getting parents out of the way. It works, but perhaps we authors need to be more creative with our settings. Are there really that many boarding schools out there?

I also stumbled a bit over Taylor’s mysterious background, wondering why she didn’t remember more of her own history. But as I read, I got drawn into the story. Taylor’s struggles are not just about where she came from, but who she is right now and  who she wants to be. She needs to come to terms with her past before she can move on. Author Melina Marchetta imbues Jellicoe Road with a pervading sense of mystery and unease. It has the requisite love angle and some fun minor characters, but at heart is Taylor’s tale.


The Wrong Mother

Sophie Hannah is one of my new favorite authors. She writes complex, literary mysteries with deeply flawed but believable characters. I don’t always like them, but I’m compelled to keep reading. It is these flaws that drive the plot. Her stories are told from a blend of the victim’s and the police’s points of view. This makes for a large cast of characters, but Hannah makes it work.

In The Wrong Mother, a woman’s infidelity draws her into a strange case of mistaken identity. A mother and daughter are killed. Or is it a suicide? The police can’t agree. Outside experts are brought in, but that only further muddies the waters. As they deal with their own personal travails, more bodies are discovered. Is there a serial killer on the loose? Hannah departs from the typical mystery format. There are no easy answers and few ah ha moments, but the tapestry she weaves is rich and satisfying.

This is the third book of Hannah’s that I’ve read and definitely won’t be the last.


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