Linna's Reviews > On the Jellicoe Road

On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
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“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.”
- Jellicoe Road, Prologue

And so begins Jellicoe Road, one of the most frustrating but rewarding books i have ever read. Jellicoe Road contains many stories; the book weaves together past and present, family and mysteries, loyalty and friendship, and at times it is heartbreakingly sad.

Taylor Markham has lived at a boarding school ever since she was abandoned by her mother many years ago. The story is hard to explain; one narrative takes place in the present, with Taylor trying to figure out where her closest friend and guardian, Hannah, has disappeared to.
The second story is set in the past and follows four friends. The prologue is part of this second story.

The flashbacks were a breath of fresh air and the way they tie in to the present-day story is simply amazing. I had figured out the twists behind When You Reach Me because I had heard there were secrets lurking in the story; I didn’t think that Jellicoe Road would have any plot twists, but when they were revealed not only was it shocking; it felt right. Not like “What the heck was the author thinking?” but “Ahhh, it makes sense.” Just what you want in this little puzzle of a book.

I could barely read this book when I first started it. Actually, that’s not totally true; the introduction is simply amazing. I read the first few pages and thought that the rest of the book would be just as gripping- but instead, the plot became incredibly convoluted and confusing.

The story springs right into Taylor’s life without any exposition whatsoever. Usually I love these types of stories; figuring out what’s happening is usually fun. But in this book, I was just frustrated.

I couldn’t seem to care about the characters; the back story to the plot was either to brief or vague; some plot elements made absolutely no sense until the very end. I found Taylor to be an unsympathetic lead; she seemed so caught up in her teenage angst.

Reading it began to feel like a tiresome trip; I tried to encourage myself to stay with it (it won the Printz award! That prologue was breathtaking!) but I eventually just gave up and put it down for a while. After wondering if the plot actually got anywhere, I picked it up again to read the ending (it’s a bad habit).

And I decided to give it another try. And I was completely blown away. I couldn’t put it down; I cried like i had just read the ending of The Book Thief for the first time (well, almost).

Thing is, it didn’t get that good until i was 3/4 through the book. Once I was about to read the final chapter, I actually decided to read the entire book from the beginning again to see what I had missed; it made the epilogue all the more powerful. Reading it the second time through, it almost seemed like another book. There are a whole bunch of little details that you miss the first time (mostly because what the heck is going on?!?!) but you can take the time to get to know the characters the second time through. And the characters, I find, are one of the most important elements of a novel.

Final Verdict: An amazing book. The way the Marchetta ties together the past and present is nothing short of genius. The frustrating confusion at the beginning drags the book down but it’s all worth it for the ending.

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Apparently I read and reviewed this book when I was around thirteen. Every time I re-read Jellicoe it never loses its power; although I've fallen harder for Melina Marchetta's characters in other books since then (and she's easily become my favorite author), I still marvel at how everything falls into place so skillfully here. If I had to pick one novel that really stands out in being a gateway to the stories that shaped my high school years, this would be it.
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Quotes Linna Liked

Melina Marchetta
“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.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“From this distance everything is so bloody perfect.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“Whatever is now covered up will be uncovered and every secret will be made known.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“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.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“Sometimes Webb believed that he would never experience a better feeling than when he was looking at her, would never see anything or anybody bursting with more life and spirit. Sometimes he felt he needed to inhale it and place it in a storage area in his soul. Just in case. ”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“My body becomes a raft and there's this part of me that wants just literally to go with the flow. To close my eyes and let it take me. But I know sooner or later I will have to get out, that I need to feel the earth beneath my feet, between my toes - the splinters, the bindi-eyes, the burning sensation of hot dirt, the sting of cuts, the twigs, the bites, the heat, the discomfort, the everything. I need desperately to feel it all, so when something wonderful happens, the contrast will be so massive that I will bottle the impact and keep it for the rest of my life.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“And then their voices stopped and their souls stood still and they ceased being who they had been. Because who they were had always been determined by him.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“He is the most beautiful creature I have ever seen and it's not about his face, but the life force I can see in him. It's the smile and the pure promise of everything he has to offer. Like he's saying, 'Here I am world, are you ready for so much passion and beauty and goodness and love and every other word that should be in the dictionary under the word life?' Except this boy is dead, and the unnaturalness of it makes me want to pull my hair out with Tate and Narnie and Fitz and Jude's grief all combined. It makes me want to yell at the God that I wish I didn't believe in. For hogging him all to himself. I want to say, 'You greedy God. Give him back. I needed him here.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“See, I remember love. That's what people don't understand.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“And life goes on, which seems kind of strange and cruel when you're watching someone die.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“He took my hand, made me stand on the branch and asked, "What can you see from here?"
"Nothing" I said,
"Know what I can see? From this distance everything is so bloody perfect".”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road
tags: book

Melina Marchetta
“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.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“If I want more, I need to go and get it, demand it, take hold of it with all my might, and do the best I can with it.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“So why would I want someone to be my everything when one day they might not be around?"
Jellicoe Road”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“I want to tell him that deep down each time Hannah looked at him she was grateful it was him because Jude did something that the others didn't. He came back for her.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“What are you so sad about? We're going to know him for the rest of our lives.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“A home to come back to every day of their lives.
Where they would all belong or long to be.
A place on the Jellicoe Road.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“That someone can want something out of another person who gives absolutely nothing in return astounds me.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“You know what? You didn't do anything wrong. I did. It's this dumb thing I do. I look into things and see more than I'm supposed to.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“You're going to set us all on fire, you homicidal feral fruitcake.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta
“Scatter?' Tate said. 'Why? We stay here. Why go anywhere else?'
'Because we'll never know how great this place is until we leave it,' Narnie said.”
Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road


Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Aly (Fantasy4eva) Fantastic review Linna. I felt the same frustration at first but this book is so worth it.


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