Sunday, August 14, 2011

On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

"I'm dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.
Taylor is the leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs- the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone who she thought she would never see again.
"And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother- who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.
(back blurb from original Aussie cover)

I first read 'On The Jellicoe Road' in 2006. I had been DYING for it's release ~ and can still remember how tingly and giddy I felt as I walked home with my copy. Back then, I had 3 kids under 5 and couldn't wait for them to get in bed so I could curl up and savour my new Melina Marchetta.

On The Jellicoe Road is notorious for people finding the beginning confusing ~ and I have seen lovers of the book urge people to persevere to find it's magic. 

It was not like that for me. From the first chapter ~ I was spellbound. I remember thinking it was beautiful and haunting and funny and so entirely utterly appealing ~ the prose and the mystery and the characters. I guess I did feel a little like: what is going on? But not in a distracting way. It was absorbing and engaging and mesmerising. And entirely unexpected.

I LOVED how gorgeously chaotic the story initially felt. I knew NOTHING about it ~ I even wondered if Santangelo would be the love interest in the early days (which quickly flew from my mind as Jonah's (JONAH!) story started unravelling).

I LOVE that I knew nothing about it. Not one review, not one opinion. I had my expectations of awesomeness (it was, after all, a Melina Marchetta and I had read (and re-read) her previous two books countless times. 

 Reading it blindly was a stunning experience: I felt like the whole world was just me and the book. That the entire experience was mine. That no one had gone before me. That the story was for me and I was a part of the story. I still feel like that, in a way. I see others discovering it and loving it and I am SO proud of it (as if, somehow, it is mine, haha) ~ but a small part of me feels like it belongs uniquely to me. More to me than anyone else (I know this is a ridiculous sentiment, but I still feel it). I almost feel private about it ~ as if it has become a part of me and talking about is like letting others peek into my soul.

That very first time: I read it all in one go. I was shattered and absorbed and breathless and incredulous. I fell in love with the characters and the prose and the setting. I still recall finishing the book and how I felt gutted and euphoric and in awe all at once. Too stunned to cry (even though it would have been lovely to weep), I lay in my bed for an hour, just thinking about it. And then ... I picked it up and started reading it from the beginning all over again. 

Since then, I have read it every year (sometimes more than once). It has never lost it's magic. It weaves itself deeper into me. It is my own personal cult book <3

It seems ridiculous that I have a book blog and have not reviewed my favourite book of all time. I think I just feel entirely too inadequate to be up the the task. I also feel like it is such a part of me that I want to hold it close and not share it with the world. Yet another part of me feels like I could talk about it all day long and never tire of things to say and quotes to quote. 

This isn't a review, per se. 

It is me, humbly telling you, that 'On The Jellicoe Road' is my favourite book of all time. It is brilliant and hopeful and ache-y and truly soul-changing. It is the kind of chaotically gorgeous masterpiece that you only ever-so-rarely stumble across. It is perfect in it's brilliance. It radiates life and hope even as it is filled with grief and sorrow. It is everything, everything, I love about reading, in such a way that it almost ruined me for other books ;) I am completely undone for it. 

Aussie large paperback original edition, US edition, Aussie 2010 regular paperback edition


  1. I keep hearing how amazing this book is.

  2. I recently re-read it and I concur. FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIME!!! It is amazing, and I felt just like you afterwards. Couldn't go to sleep just thinking about it. Unfortunately I couldn't read it again right away, but it's on my bedstand now and will remain there. Forever. :)

  3. I squealed when I saw this on my dashboard. I am so glad you finally talked about this. I've been waiting for you to actually ;) I know exactly what you mean. I was one of those who saw everything click together after those 100 pages but wow I was mesmerized. Like you I became so attached to this book it was insane. Nothing else seemed to matter and for me it was a private, intimate moment also. It seems to have that affect on people. When I read a quote anywhere from the book it takes me back. I'm not much of a re - reader but since I've read this just the once I think I'm going to dig into it again. I miss them at times as strange as it sounds. I still think about the characters and wonder how they would be now.

  4. oh wow nomes. what a gorgeousss review. i do own the book, but i haven't been able to get to it yet. and yeah, maybe i'm not going to soon. see, i have this really lame fear that one day i'll run out of physical YA books and then what will i do? i'm always broke and YA books here are SOOO expensive, so...yeah.

    haha. :D

  5. <3
    I love this so much.
    and this book.
    and jonah (JONAH!)
    and melina marchetta :)

    I wish I knew of this book 5 years ago, but i can never get over how thankful i am to blogging that it helped me discover this book

  6. I adore this review! I finally got around to reading the whole thing this summer and it just WRECKED me for days <3 And I have you to thank for introducing me to it!

  7. Love love love this book. <3

  8. Great kind-of review! I completely agree, although I only read Jellicoe for the first time early this year.

    A few days ago I managed to get one of my friends to read it, but they were confused by the (awesome!) confusing beginning and didn't finish. I was like, "that's silly. Keep going. You haven't even met Noah yet!"

  9. I love this book so much, and I still remember what I was doing when I first read it - lets say that story ends with me sobbing like a three year old in the bus - and I was like you, I didn't find the beginning confusing nor was I put off by it.

    It was spellbinding.

    And I loved it

  10. Jellicoe Road was actually the first Melina Marchetta book that I read and I fell in love with it. It made me want to read the rest of her novels and I'm so happy that they're available here in the Philippines. I remember being confused at the start because it was the first Aussie YA book that I read so some of the details took some getting used to. But it was totally worth the effort. Sigh, your review is making me want to reread the book.

  11. Love this review Nomes. I think On The Jellicoe Road is one of those stories that you never forget no matter how many books you read. So glad you finally wrote a review for it.

  12. I'm liking you in the fact that i loved it from the first sentence and once i started reading it, i couldn't stop. It is a truly beautiful story, the way its pieced together, the love story between not only Taylor and Jonah but Hannah and the brigader.
    I aced for the friendship and pure love that the characters had for each other.
    Such an amazing book, i walk out of a room if someone tries to bad mouth it haha.
    Great post Nomes

  13. Love this post Nomes!

    I always find that the more I love a book the harder I find to write a review on it... but you did a fantastic job!

    I need to reread this book. It's been about a month! :-p
    My friend borrowed my copy and she sure is dragging her feet getting it back to me.
    Hmmph. :)

  14. I would love to add something heartfelt/witty/poignant/etc to what you wrote, but what else is there to say? You've captured this book, and how much you adore it, perfectly. :)

  15. Like you, I was completely hooked from the first line of Jellicoe Road. The writing is instantly mesmerising, the setting enticing and the characters heartbreakingly beautiful. I read it for the first time last year and was blown away. A few weeks ago I listened to the audio book and was, once again, incredibly moved and amazed by this amazing, amazing story.

  16. I read the prologue.
    I want to cry now... )'=

  17. so yes, i'm commenting again, but WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT LIBRARY POST? i don't know why you deleted it, but it came up on my google reader and i adored it. i live in a pretty literature-deprived country, and miss libraries something fierce, which is why i dug the post so much. :D

  18. Every time I've attempted to write a review of one of Marchetta's novels, I have felt completely inadequate. It's like words fail me, though she never does!

    I remember kind of wondering if the love interest would be Santangelo, too. I'd love to get his story.

  19. You introduced this book to me Nomes, and you are 100% right. What a fantastic book. It is now on my top list of ALL time. Love it. and I got my husband to read it-- he pretended not to cry at the end, but I know better.

  20. Oh, I'm excited now! See, you'd be proud of me. Contemp is not my style. But I've heard you talk about Jellico Road and The Piper's Son so much that when I made a library run and saw they were in, I actually picked them up. This review/rave is just the motivation I needed to sit down and read them. Thanks for it!


  21. Wasn't this novel just brilliant? Glad you loved it so much :D

  22. I'm so glad to see that someone else feels this way about thsi book!
    My best friend and I discovered it when we were in Year 10 or 11, perhaps, and it was just..amazing. I reread this book every year and cry every time I read it. I can honestly say that no other book has ever moved me so much. I've tried to get so many other people to read it, but so many think it is really confusing - for me, it was better the second time I read it. Just..words really can't do it justice!

  23. You are reading my mind! I just picked it up per Aly's suggestion. Oh my god. It was amazing. I felt completely out of the loop. I had no idea what was going on (in the back of mind I was thinking if this type of schooling is normal for you guys in aussie land. You review has confirmed that this is not the case.) I flew through the book and then shoved bookmarks all inside the pages. It's a library book and I don't want to let it go! I need to re read it before I have to part with it. LOL

    ♥ Trish

  24. You've expressed my love for JELLICOE ROAD far better than I ever could have. This book truly is one that I will treasure and admire forever - and savor every time I read it!

    I also agree that the beginning is perfectly mysterious... more tantalizing than confusing. To me, anyway.

    There's only one book I've ever finished and then reread immediately - THE BOOK THIEF. Why are Aussie writers so fantastic?

  25. I love your review! Here's mine if you don't mind:

    Thanks and have a nice day! =D


Thanks for the commenty love :)