Book Title/Author: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen 2010 (first published in 2006)
Genre: Contemporary YA
Other Books From Author: Saving Francesca, Looking For Alibrandi, The Piper’s Son, The Lumatere Chronicles
I bought this with my own cash money!
When Taylor was eleven she was abandoned by her mother who always seemed to really struggle in life. A woman finds her and enrolls her in a boarding school where she lives but one day, when Taylor is 14, she tries to go find her mother and meets Jonah Griggs on her way. They embark on the journey together, despite all of these kidnappings happening nearby, until someone shows up to bring Taylor back to school out of the blue. Now Taylor is a year 12 and she’s been passed down the torch to be the leader of the school’s secret underground society that deals with the territory wars between the neighboring Townies and the Cadets (led by none other than Jonah). When Hannah, the woman who had been sort of taking care of her, disappears Taylor struggles to deal with the pressure of the territory wars as well as trying to figure out where Hannah went and why she would leave her.
WOW. This is one of those situations where I felt like I was the last person to read this book after SO many people I trust said IT IS A YOU BOOK. The only three things I knew about this book? That it was from a beloved Aussie author, that all people I trust implicitly said it was AMAZING and an all time favorite and that it was going to be a slow start but I should stick with it. I didn’t even know what it was ABOUT. I just bought it blindly years ago because of the incredible love it was getting.
Jellicoe Road was devastatingly beautiful but it definitely was a little bit of a slow burn like everyone says. You aren’t hooked right away but, if you are like me, by the end you find yourself with a steady stream of tears falling for the last 30-40 minutes of reading it without realizing you are really crying. On the surface, as you begin reading, it’s hard to see how this is all going to come together as it seems liked it was just this story of these kids in boarding school and their silly territory wars with the Cadets and the Townies. I was definitely intrigued from the beginning, I mean the first sentence of this book is WOW, but I definitely didn’t FEEL anything and felt confused as I patiently waded through some of it. I felt confused as it switched from this part in italics and then Taylor’s part and I kept not remember who characters were but then it slowly comes together and I understood what was going on with the italicized parts.
The thing is even though I didn’t really connect at first I was intrigued, as I said before, but I could just FEEL like something was bubbling under the surface to really bring this together. It was a lot like those rides at amusement parks where you ascend slowly to the top of this tower and then you wait and wait and wait and then you get to the top and you are just dangling there knowing you are going to be dropped at any moment and the anticipation in your gut feels like it could kill you. That’s what reading this felt like — I knew eventually the bottom was going to drop out and my emotions were just going to be in freefall and out of control….it was just the wait that put my stomach into knots.
The mystery and the two stories came together in an amazingly crafted and heartwrenching way. It was a double slaying as we started to put the pieces together because I felt like I was always one to two steps ahead of Taylor in putting the pieces together (but kind of sidestepping and unsure) and it a swift punch to the gut but then when I had to watch Taylor find out the things that I already put together it completely annihilated me and finished me off. My heart felt like a demolition site — the wrecking ball and the dynamite just leveling me completely.
This book really was such a me book. There was such emotion and heart. The writing was beautiful and haunting. I connected to the characters and I just can’t stop thinking about them. A swoonworthy boy! An interesting story that is so layered and perfectly plotted! All these things just came together so amazingly and just felt like one of those perfectly constructed stories for me — the heart and emotion and the friendship and the love just making me FEEL SO MANY THINGS.
Jellicoe Road is a new favorite for sure and now I must get my hands on every Melina Marchetta book ever. I wasn’t sure if it would live up to the hype but it did that and more as I was reading it before I even realized it. My husband had to point out that I was crying consistently in the end of the book. My emotions just forced themselves out but I was too absorbed in the story to notice. It was just so amazing that I feel like I never want to read another book again but at the same time I just want to devour every story ever just to feel like this again.
Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Did you find it slow in the beginning or were you fine? ALSO, did you put the pieces together before Taylor? Which Melina Marchetta book should I read next??