The Compulsive Reader: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Taylor Markham's family history is sketchy at best. She has vague memories of moving around a lot with her drug-addict mom until she abandons Taylor on Jellicoe Road when she's eleven years old, where a woman named Hannah takes her in. Now a senior at the Jellicoe School, Taylor is at the head of the annual territory wars between the members of the school, the Townies, and the visiting Cadets. But her grip on life starts to slip when Hannah disappears without a trace, and she discovers that the leader of the cadets is Jonah Griggs...the Cadet she ran away with when she was fourteen, before a mysterious Brigadier brought her back to school. Left with only questions and random pages from Hannah's manuscript, Taylor must find a way to not only pull through the territory wars, but also put together the clues to solve the mystery of her past.

Jellicoe Road is one of those rare books that will blow you away with the exquisite emotion and raw power of the writing. The friendships, tragedies, loss, love, and discovery that the characters find in this book transcends time in the most heartbreaking and triumphant ways. The book begins with a tragic accident that occurred twenty years prior to the beginning of Taylor's story, kicking off a long string of events with a lot of characters that may be confusing to grasp at first, but the many plotlines soon straighten out as you become engrossed in the story. Marchetta does an excellent job at blending past and present, dream and reality together to bring the lives of Taylor and those close to her into focus for the reader, subtly guiding them through their trials and toward each other. The tone of the book is overall quite pensive, especially when Marchetta reflects upon the past, but it is not without some great humor and moments of hilarity as Taylor develops friendships through unlikely circumstances. The reader may be able to figure out the clues from the past more quickly than Taylor can, but just when you believe you've discovered the truth, Marchetta is able to throw in a few surprises. She also doesn't always come out and present her answers in a straightforward manner, but instead leaves the reader plenty of clues and indications for them to figure out the truth on their own time. Jellicoe Road is layered and unique, with one of the most perfect, poignant endings ever crafted. It's one book that you'll want to immediately re-read again and again.

Cover Comments: I have adored this cover since the first day I saw it. I love poppies, and the richness of the color on this cover is just gorgeous. I also really like the title font--it's unique and slightly whimsical, but yet so appropriate for this book.

Review copy purchased.

I was just so blown away by this book, I can't wait for check out more by Melina Marchetta, who is an Australian author. She has three other books available in the US (that I am aware of): Saving Francesca, Looking for Alibrandi (which was made into a movie in Australia, though the DVD can be bought in the US on Amazon), and her latest fantasy, Finnikin of the Rock. The first two are available in paperback for under $9! Have you read any of her other books? What did you think?


Alison Can Read said...

I loved Jellicoe Road. It's one of my all-time favorites. I was totally lost for the first half, but I stuck through it and everything came together. I immediately re-read it once I finished the book. I can't remember the last time I did that. Everything made so much more sense the second time and was even more emotional and beautiful.

Anonymous said...

For me, this is one of the best books ever.

Melina's writing always leaves me feeling a little raw inside. It's not a sad feeling at all, just this sense that I've gone through a lot while reading her books.

Jellicoe is amazing that way. I agree there are a ton of characters, but like you said, you get the hang of it quickly enough.

And Jonah Griggs *insert long sigh*


Audrey (holes In My brain) said...

sooo glad you liked, i LOOOOVE this book!!! Perhaps my favourite YA book ever :) great review! and Melinas other books are so amazing too, esp. the contemp ones!

A.J. said...

Perfect review! This book blew me away, and it's my favorite book ever. Love it so much. I love Melina Marchetta's other books as well; she's definitely my favorite author! :)

Anonymous said...

Heres my review on the book: http://ghostofthestill.blogspot.com/2011/01/br-jellicoe-road.html

I'm glad you enjoyed it too I loved it and that surprised me and I'm going to keep an eye on this author but I have other books I need to read first before adding another one to the list

Andrea said...

Awesome review! I absolutely loved this book, and I agree that Marchetta is so good at writing emotions. I definitely need to read the rest of her books!

Literature for Lunch said...

This is one of the best books I have ever read. I loved your review - it captured the beauty, the emotion and the relationships behind the story.

This is my favorite of all of her books but I absolutely adored Saving Francesca and Looking for Alibrandi as well. I can't wait for The Piper's Son to be released in March. I have heard such great things about Finnikin of the Rock.

Melina Marchetta is a gifted author with a real talent for writing authentically. I am so glad that you loved Jellicoe Road. I cannot say enough good things about this book.