Whatcha reading? [On the] Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

I started this one right after Miss Timmins' School for Girls, set in a boarding school in India, and here we are at a boarding school in Australia but co-ed, run by the state instead of by missionaries, and definitely a step down the dark scale, shades of Lord of the Flies. In classic YA fashion many orphans and abandoned children and teens live on their own here, flouting the school rules and even governing the Houses (dorms). I’m on page 64 and have had hardly a glimpse of an adult, other than the elusive Hannah, who might care about our main character, Taylor Markham, more than she lets on and for reasons unknown. Taylor herself has lived at the school for much of her life, abandoned by her mother, and now finds herself unwilling leader of the underground student movement, much to the other House leaders' upset, at war with the Townies and the seasonal military trainees (Cadets) for everything: territory, respect, air time, and possibly, life itself.

Plenty of unknown here: What’s with the turf wars? Who put the kids in charge? How many kids are dead or missing? Why does no one seem to care? Where is the presence of the state, which supposedly runs this institution? Is it a school at all or actually an orphanage cum warehouse until the kids come of age? What happened to Taylor’s mother? Who is the Brigadier? What events gave Hannah the idea for her novel, or is it a memoir? Does Taylor ever smile? Or laugh? Or have any fun at all? (She is one serious girl.) Sometimes too many questions or confusions put me off, but in this case I just want to turn the pages faster. Something tells me that I will be reading this one over again immediately, as soon as I finish.

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