Secret Senses; On the Jellicoe road

Too much happiness always overflowed into tears of sorrow.

 

The Hundred Secret Senses reminded me of On the Jellicoe Road.

Parallel story structure technique has used in both. Story in a story. Characters are so good that after some time you do not notice flow of the story, you just go with character’s direction.

We spoke about our dreams and how we always felt safe in them, no matter how bad everything else seemed. He told me it was one of the best days of his life and then he took out his gun. A .22 rifle. And he leaned forward and whispered, “Forgive me, Taylor Markham.” Before I could ask how he knew my name and what I was to forgive him for he said, “Take care of my little girl.”
And then he told me to close my eyes.
And I’ve been frightened to do just that ever since.

On the Jellicoe Road is a story of a girl, ‘Taylor Markham’, when 13, abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road.  Now she is a leader of boarding school there. Being a leader mean she has to lead school against Townies (locals) and Cadets in a territory war. Problems increase when Hannah, mentor of school, disappears. Taylor has hands full with school’s problem, territory war, Hannah’s absence. She doubt if Hannah’s absence has anything to do with her mother. On the other hand, the leader of Cadets is Jonah Griggs, boy she run away once with to city to find her mother. That journey does not end very well.

Parallel story start from the pages Hannah left behind her. She was writing some kind of autobiography. Taylor, ofcourse realize it later. Parallel story is of five kids who live in the town 20-25 years ago.

As I walk back to the school on my own, I realise I’m crying. So I go back to the stories I’ve read about the five and I try to make sense of their lives because in making sense of theirs, I may understand mine.

Taylor wants to know her history, and she was so passionate to do it that she made friend in enemies and go to city again to find her mother and Hannah.

The relationship of Jonah and Taylor is amazingly described. He betrays her once as Taylor think. But for him, she is the one who saved him from a wrong decision. They go to city together, search places, do stuff.


“If you weren’t driving, I’d kiss you senseless,” I tell him.
He swerves to the side of the road and stops the car abruptly.
“Not driving any more.”


“What’s with what you’re wearing?” Griggs asks while we stand outside waiting for the others.
“It’s pretty hideous, isn’t it?” I say.
“Don’t force me to look at it,” he says. “It’s see-through.”

That kills conversation for a couple of seconds


Chaz Santangelo, leader of townies, is friend with Riffy, girl from the town but attends Jellicoe School. They were side characters but never felt. Powerfully written and accordingly used. War is so funny and necessary. Sometime scary too.


“This is the best night of my life,” Raffy says, crying.
“Raffy, half our House has burnt down,” I say wearily. “We don’t have a kitchen.”
“Why do you always have to be so pessimistic?” she asks. “We can double up in our rooms and have a barbecue every night like the Cadets.”
Silently I vow to keep Raffy around for the rest of my life.”


I’m very disturbed to find out that the leader of the Townies has a soul and I’m beginning to develop a bit of a crush on him.


“This is war,” he say quietly.
“Well thank God you’re dressed for it, Griggs.”


When he wins the bet, I tell Griggs that it will take me a lifetime to save up two trillion dollars and he tells me that he’s only giving me seventy years.


“Teresa, Teresa. Have we taught you nothing?” Raffy says in an irritated voice. “It’s war. You go in and you hunt him down until he realises that he’s made a mistake.”


“Don’t you ever touch my car again,” Santangelo says with the same fury he had on his face when Jonah Griggs made
comments about his mother.
Raffy touches the car with her finger in a very dramatic way.
“You’ve just made our hit list,” he says, getting a hanky out of his pocket and cleaning off some imaginary mark.


At the climax when two stories clashed, you see what was in front of your eyes and actually, it do not shock you, but it gives a funny feeling, like “dude, i was guessing it, i mean something similar to this lines”.

Book aced the Young-Adult Genre.

“Go to hell,” he said, but there was a desolate fear in his eyes and I couldn’t look away.
“Been there. Trust me. It’s so overrated.”

Then there is ,The Hundred Secret Senses, come with very cool Kwan, who is Chinese come to live with her American family. She has yin eyes, mean, she can see dead people and can talk to them.

“. . .the world is not a place but the vastness of the soul. And the soul is nothing more than love, limitless, endless, all that moves us toward knowing what is true. . .And believing in ghosts – that’s believing that love never dies. If people we love die, then they are lost only to our ordinary senses. If we remember, we can find them anytime with our hundred secret senses. ”

She talks in a fluent Chinese and funny English. She pronounced Olivia as Libby ah. Olivia’s life has always been censored by Kwan. She is frustrating character. Kwan sees it as her responsibility to advice and tells her to do the right things.

“Everyone must dream. We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming – well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate. Isn’t that true?”

She told her a story of her life before this one. Story sets in 18th century China, where civil war and Christianity is at backdrop and then backdrop’s consequences affect run story in certain direction.

“The next world is ‘segregated’? You can go to the World of Yin only if you’re Chinese?”
“No-no! Miss Banner, she not Chinese, she go to Yin World. All depend what you love, what you believe. You love Jesus, go Jesus House. You love Allah, go Allah Land. You love sleep, go sleep.”
“What if you don’t believe in anything for sure before you die?”
“Then you go big place, like Disneyland, many places can go try–you like, you decide. No charge, of course.”

Incarnation !!! Yes. So the past life characters birth again as present life character. Olivia thinks it is all rubbish imagination of Kwan. It is reader’s choice to interpret Kwan’s stories in anyway.

I think Kwan intended to show me the world is not a place but the vastness of the soul. And the soul is nothing more than love, limitless, endless, all that moves us toward knowing what is true.

Story of book is Simon and Olivia was going to get divorce and end up with a trip to Kwan’s village in China.There they realize if they really want a divorce.

And all that talk about the breakup being good for us- who am I trying to fool? I’m cut loose, untethered, not belonging to anything or anybody.

Kwan persuades them and situations demand it. Reaching there, Olivia suspect that if there is some truth in Kwan’s stories. Kwan’s stories of past life and this life go parallel and in the end you find who is who. There is chance you will guess it but that does not spoil book.

Amy Tan and Melina Marchetta have the power to make rich characters. Details and Description is what made them my one of my favourite. I crave long tiny details in books and Amy Tan satisfy me. Melina also did it to an extent but she is best in creating plots.

The runaway of Taylor, her partnership with Jonah, Jonah’s problems with his fathers, Not only this, but the parallel story of five Kids, who started the territory wars for fun are effectively linked to the main plot. Probably, if you read between the lines, you will find out what is going on, but it will be too late, and you will be so much into the books and characters, that you will ignore it and continue reading.

Watching China from Simon’s view is comic, and love of Riffy and Chaz is like some school romance. While I was reading Jelicoe Road, I wished to read more about Riffy and Chaz. Secret Senses has fewer characters and only the main character’s story followed, but parallel story in it really give some superb people.


I watch Raffy as she removes the pickles from her hamburger and hands them over to Santangelo without them exchanging a word and I realize again there is more to that relationship than spelling bees and being enemies.


If you want to take pictures of Chinese food, you have to taste real Chinese food. The flavors soak into your tongue, go into your stomach. The stomach is where your true feelings are. And if you take photos, these true feelings from your stomach can come out, so that everyone can taste the food just by looking at your pictures.


Despite of being funny from the front, there is lot of sadness hide in sentences. Girls who lost everything, then they are surviving and they wanted to be belong somewhere. When they think they found something they can lean to, things change and they pay for the apparent happiness.


And life goes on, which seems kind of strange and cruel when you’re watching someone die. But there’s a joy and an abundance of everything, like information and laughter and summer weather and so many stories. My mother urges me to write them down because, “You’re the last of the Markhams, my love.” So I record dates and journeys and personalities and traits and heroes and losers and weaknesses and strengths and I try to capture every one of those people because one day I’ll need what they had to offer.


A few times I invited Ba to visit me from the World of Yin. But other yin friends tell me he is stuck somewhere else, a foggy place where people believe their lies are true.


What disappoint me is the starting of Jelicoe road and end of Secret senses. Jelicoe road start with mess, nothing is in order and after 30-40 pages, things start to make sense. Lots of people leave lost interest till then. Secret Senses ending is not what it deserves. It feels like cheating to me. You read a good book and then its ending does not co-operate.

But this price I will give happily to read this type of books.

I need to read more Melina Marchetta and Amy tan and Parallel story books.

I used lots of quotes (with no context) as it is a best way to tell how good these books were without spoiling.   View all my reviews.

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