TFG’s Book of the Month for May – Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

A map of real, edible, delicious cookies

Because I always post our book club discussions late, I decided to make it a habit. A lot has already been written about our Jellicoe Road discussion through my bookish friends’ respective blogs, and do I need to further stress that it was another fun activity?

And aren’t book discussions always fun? Combine that with food and the “after-discussion” talks, make that super fun!

A number of people are aware that before this book, I have never ventured on young adult fiction. Had this not been chosen as the book of the month, I might never read it. And I don’t think it’s such a bad idea to veer away from what one always reads. There are a lot of books out there, and although there’s so little time to read all the books that we want, there’s always an opportunity to explore other genres that we are not accustomed with.

So what did I realize from the discussion? Young adult fiction is important for readers who are new to the world of reading. Although I was never acquainted with this genre, and I just wound up to reading classics and general fiction out of nowhere (I guess I am an isolated case?), I think it can help nurture the fledgling reader. I still insist though that one should not get stuck in this genre or in any genre for this matter. I mean, one will miss out a lot of good books if he deliberately chooses to read only one type of books.

I also wanted to say something about the stigma on young adult fiction. One of our members brought this up somewhere. I wanted to make a long speech on it because I don’t think there’s any stigma attached to it. Young adult bloggers are everywhere. They are capable of creating some force if they stick together, and I noticed that they are more cohesive than the type of reader that I am.

I think that a problem is how some young adult bloggers react violently to criticism and how they have this tendency to act like teenyboppers. I have witnessed one book signing of a young adult book, and the audience was a little rowdy. Nothing wrong with that, but this rubs some people in the wrong way.

I used to be one of those people, but when I met some of the young adult readers in our book club, I relented my unexamined judgments on the genre. These people, whom I am fond of and with whom I spend some of my leisure time, are smart, refined, and not at all teenyboppers.

Up to this point, I realized that I do not really know what I am pointing at.

Okay, I definitely am not switching to young adult fiction, but as I mentioned before, it’s not so bad. Seriously, I was wondering if I should diss the book, but I contented myself with holding back because I felt that it isn’t right to compare a young adult book with a Victorian novel. I noticed though that the book did not merit stellar ratings from our senior members. Perhaps that speaks of something, no?

As usual, we have the question and answer portion, and again, I picked a question that is quote-related. It is something about the character not existing before his friends came to his life. Gah, I cannot remember it. You see, one has to know the context of the quote, and if one cannot remember where and when and why something is said, it would be pretty much hard to explain a book passage.

I am not a fan of quoting, so again, I was dumbfounded with my question. Okay, I do put some quotes in my book write-ups, but I only gather those quotes the moment I sit down to type the post. I open the book that I am writing about and sort of randomly pick out a nice passage.

The discussion was segmented by character, which I think is effective. This is also a good approach on discussing young adult fiction because they are more focused than plot and characters than theme and style. A funny thing is that when I was asked for my favorite character, I chose a minor one. In fact, this character is so minor that he could have been easily forgotten by any reader.

And the best thing about this discussion is the giveaway! Our discussion leader burned audio CDs of songs that we dedicated to each other. This is due to the big influence of music on the novel. I dedicated Hands by Jewel to Miss Louize (since she was the person that I randomly picked). I gave that song her because she’s a motivational speaker of sorts and I think the whole song aptly represents the things she does.

There are a lot of songs in the CD, around 30, and here are my favorite ones, regardless of their reasons for being dedicated:

  • Say by John Mayer (coincidentally, this was the song dedicated to me by Celina. She said that given my fearlessness for saying what’s on my mind and my unknown ability to intimidate, this song fits me. I don’t know about intimidating, but thanks for the song!)
  • Ordinary Day by Vanessa Carlton
  • Subterranean Homesick Alien by Radiohead
  • Charlie Brown by Coldplay
  • Don’t Dream It’s Over by Crowded House
  • Closer than This by St. Lucia
  • Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye
The Attendees of the Fifth TFG Face to Face Book Discussion

The Attendees of the Fifth TFG Face to Face Book Discussion

Jellicoe Road Book Discussion Details

  • Date: May 19, 2012
  • Place: Asya Filipino-Asian Restaurant, Eton Centris, Quezon City
  • Time: 1 PM to 5 PM
  • Attendees: Me, Aaron (discussion leader), Ace, AennaAlona (late), Aprilyn, Beejay, Camille , Celina, Durrell (newbie), Ella, Ingrid, JL, Jzhun, KD, Kwesi (late), Miss Louize, Maria, Milo (newbie), Po, Doc Ranee, RollieSheryl (late), Tina, Miss Veronica, Wilfred
  • Food I Ate: California maki and turon (banana fritters?) shared with Maria, cookies baked by Camille, food ordered by Miss Veronica. I was picking at whatever was offered to me.

(Photos courtesy of Ella.)