Jellicoe Road

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Title: Jellicoe Road
Written by: Melinda Marchetta
Publisher: Harper Teen
Released: August 26, 2008
Previously released: 2006, in Australia
Pages: 419
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Here I am with another co-read/review with Kailana at The Written World.

From the prologue:

My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die.

I counted.

It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’d ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-La. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of miles away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father said that it was about time the four of us made that journey. I remember asking, “What’s the difference between a trip and a journey?” and my father said, “Narnie, my love, when we get there, you’ll understand,” and that was the last thing he ever said.

With a beginning like that, how could you put it down?  Well, I did, two times, but the third time…well…wow.  Every once in awhile, a book comes along that just hits you in the gut.  It hits too close to home, it tears your heart out, it grabs you by the roots of your hair and spins and doesn’t turn loose until well after the last page has been turned.  Jellicoe Road did all these things to me and so much more.

Taylor Markham has been living at the Jellicoe Road boarding school since her mother abandoned her at the nearby 7-Eleven six years earlier.  She doesn’t really know what happened to her father; only that he has been gone for most of her life. Now she’s seventeen has been newly elected to the post of student leader of her dorm and to lead the Underground Community as one of the three boarding schools who battle for territory (among other things) in her small Australian community.  The two other gangs are called the Cadets and the Townies.  For years these three camps have fought in the “Territory Wars;” wars fought over land, trees, water, and more.  Everything is going swimmingly, until Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family disappears without a word. Jonah Griggs, the boy Taylor ran away with three years ago and the leader of the Cadets has popped back into her life with smoldering looks and mystifying behavior.   And all the young kids of Taylor’s house are now looking to her for everything.   Things start falling apart.

Understandably Taylor wants to know what’s going on with Hannah.  We are given glimpses of a novel that Hannah has been working on, which at first Taylor takes to be fictional but quickly realizes that it might not be so fictional.  It provides an all important glimpse of Hannah’s, and Taylor’s, life.  As she gets closer and closer to the truth the pieces of the puzzle start to fit together and, well, good luck putting the book down.  This is an absorbing story where nothing is quite what it seems and the clues only lead to more questions for Taylor, as she tries to work out the connections between herself, Hannah, her mother and the character’s in Hannah’s book.  This is a book about secrets, anguish, pain, love, betrayal, hope, death, life and oh so much more.  It’s heartbreaking and beautiful.  It’s gorgeous and haunting.  It’s going to live with me for a long time, I’m sure. I’m so glad I gave it that third try.

Oh and this is important. Jellicoe Road won the Printz Award!

See Kailana’s review here.

And now, for Kailana’s questions for me:

What did you think of Taylor Markham? Did your opinion change as the novel progressed or stay the same?

As I said, this novel hit close to home.  My own father died when I was very young and I was basically abandoned by my mother around the age of 3.  The things Taylor has to go through in her quest to find out the all important “Why?” were things I was forced to go through too.

At first I had trouble liking Taylor.  She was so remote, so standoffish; she didn’t want to be liked or to like anyone.  But as the novel progress and I got to know Taylor better, I realized we had a lot in common.  I began to identify with her, rather strongly, and by the end I admit, I really came to admire her and the choices she made.  I think she was a wonderfully written, extremely well developed character.   I too can be remote, standoffish, I’m probably considered cold by many people.  It’s not true, but I know I have a tendency to hide myself away for fear of being hurt again.  I don’t make friends easily and the ones that I do have I protect with a fierce dread that I will loose them in some way.

As the novel progressed, I came to greatly admire Taylor for the choices she made and to envy her maturity.  She made choices that, upon reflection, I somewhat wish I had been able to make.

What are your thoughts on the cover? Did it make sense for the book at all? Do you like it?

At first glance, the cover really didn’t mean anything to me.  A red poppy?  Wow, it’s pretty, but eh?  I, the cover whore, was not taken with it.  But once it was introduced to the story and what it did mean became clear, well, I decided I liked it.

My questions to her, with my answers:

What did you think of the juxtaposition of Taylor’s first-person narrative and Hannah’s third-person omniscient “novel” in the book?

At first I had a really hard time with it, because I didn’t realize right off the bat that it was Hannah’s book.  I wasn’t sure what it was and once it got through my thick head that it was Hannah’s narrative I felt slightly dumb.  Once I knew what it was though, I thought the technique worked pretty well, especially since Hannah was gone from the narrative so early.  I thought it helped bring her story and Taylor’s story together in an interesting way.

Who was your favorite secondary character?

Hmmm…that’s a hard question.  There were so many characters I liked.  Jonah, Hannah, Webb, Raffaela, Santangelo… but I think I’ll have to say Jonah.  I just like those strong, silent, angsty types.

Also by Melina Marchetta:  Saving Francesca, Looking for Alibrandi

Also reviewed by:

The YA, YA, YAs | InkweaverReview | The Book Muncher | Book Review Maniac | Reading Keeps You Sane | Becky’s Book | Bookshelves of Doom | Novel Journey |Reviewer X | Angieville | Random Thoughts from a Random Teen | It’s All About Books (Suey) |

9 thoughts on “Jellicoe Road

  1. I really like the co-review thing you guys have going!! We are going to try it with the Tiffany Achling (Discworld) Series. Should be interesting.

    This is so high on my list! I can't wait to read it!

  2. I had started this one on audiobook and it just didn't work, but I'm thinking it will be better with a physical reading. After this review, I'll be doing it soon!

  3. what an interesting blog you have here! i noticed that you're currently reading middlemarch. i have a copy; but i still haven't read it. is it good?

  4. I adored this book, the characters were so compelling and the setting so intriguing. I felt for Taylor throughout and really wanted to see more of her relationship with Jonah.

    I'm glad you enjoyed this book, particularly since you have a personal connection to the subject matter. I'm sure it was a difficult read in spots but perhaps having that relationship made working through it more understandable.

  5. "Every once in awhile, a book comes along that just hits you in the gut. It hits too close to home, it tears your heart out, it grabs you by the roots of your hair and spins and doesn’t turn loose until well after the last page has been turned."

    I know that feeling well, and I love it when that happens. I've been dying to read this for months, but since I waited so long I might as well wait another month for the paperback. This won the Printz the same year two of my favourites (Nation and Tender Morsels) were honor books, so I have very high expectations for it!

  6. This sounds good…. I like the ones that really grab you and you are thinking….wow… is anyone else getting this as deeply as I am?

    Cool review

  7. Gah! Another book that's languishing away on my stacks that I REALLY need to read. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. That gives me more oomphf to pick it back up!

  8. Oops! I know, I seem to have failed to post on Saturday… Sorry! This is why you should check on your blog over the weekend… Off to remedy now!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *