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Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta {Amanda’s Review}

in Contemporary, ESR: 8, Review: Amanda, YA
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta {Amanda’s Review}Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Genres: Adolescence, Family, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Orphans & Foster Homes, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.

At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor’s the reluctant leader of her school’s underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can’t avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.

I need more Melina Marchetta now!

My Thoughts on Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta is a well-loved author in many parts of the blogosphere. I decided to try out one of her books, and I chose Jellicoe Road to start with. I think maybe because Alissa (The Grammarian’s Reviews) recommended it to me. I definitely enjoyed Jellicoe Road, and I need more Melina Marchetta now. (I will take Melina Marchetta recommendations if there are any.)

Though it took me a while to get into, Jellicoe Road eventually sucked me in and kept me up far past my bed time and wishing I could read all night. I don’t stay up late at night to read much anymore, so you know that if a book makes me want to, it has to be good. Part of the reason why it took me some time to get settled into the story is that you’re thrown in the Taylor’s world without much explanation. It takes a bit to stretch out and find a comfortable spot, but once you do, you don’t want to move until you absolutely have to. (You know, like until the end of the book.)

I loved the alternating stories of the past and present. I was able to piece together some of the mysteries pretty easily, but that didn’t take away my enjoyment at all. Melina Marchetta weaves a very nuanced story with layers and depth. I loved how the story (stories) unfolded. There is just so much here. An supposedly abandoned child learning to make it on her own. Taylor is both a tragic and strong figure, trying to find her way. And Jonah! And Taylor’s friends! Jessa! The Cadets and Townies and Houses.

And despite its heavy subject matter, Jellicoe Road retains a sense of subtle humor. Just enough to keep your lips curled up in amusement. There’s a bit of mystery. A bit of romance. And a whole lot of coming of age. I can very easily see why Melina Marchetta and her books are loved as much as they are. And I have a feeling that I am well on my way to joining that fan club.


About the author: Amanda, noun: 1. Creator of On a Book Bender and Bout of Books. 2. Editor at The Path of Least Revision. 3. Lover of language and books. 4. Drinker of wine, coffee, and vodka. 5. Idea wrangler and wielder of words.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sarah (saz101) January 16, 2013, 4:21 am

    Oh my goodness… Amanda. This is random, but did you know your blog loads DELIGHTFULLY FAST. IT IS WONDERFUL AND I AM VERY HAPPY.

    But, moving on. Oh oh oh oh oh. Amanda. WOW.
    Now I want to see how many times I can say your name in one comment, Amanda.
    I feel creepy, Amanda.

    AMANDA (heh). WOOOOOW.
    I am RIDICULOUSLY excited you loved it.
    I *think* you know (did I whinge at you about it?) that I had one thing that really upset me with the book. But… you know, I think it’s the magic of a truly, truly wonderful book that, despite that, I finished the book kind of humbled. And in awe. And… with all the feels. ALL OF THEM.

    I don’t know how to put it more eloquently than you did :O
    I think ‘nuanced’ is the PERFECT word, and I loved the telling of Narnie’s story interlaced with Taylor’s own and oh man it broke my heart. I kind of think how Narnie’s tale was told out of order made it harder, more painful? Seeing moments of pure happiness and sunshine and light one minute, then devastating grief, then back to happiness… the light made the dark that much deeper?


    BUT BUT BUT… I think what I loved so SO much were the teens. The way they talk, the way they tease, the language, the feeling, the dance, the beat up car, the everything… it feels so authentically Australian. Even the bits that aren’t familiar to me are still, well, familiar. I know these characters. Every last one. From the jokes to the tears, and it was even more wonderful knowing them on the page. And Kings Cross is so EXACTLY Kings Cross. The scenery IS Australia. The road and singing about Flame Trees and…
    I COULDN’T review this when I finished, and now your review is making me feel all these feelings again and DSJHDLK.


    *stomps off*
    *stomps back*
    *huggles your face*

    I… just did a word count on this comment, and it’s as long as some of my reviews.
    Please to not hate me?

    Your review…. your review is perfect perfect perfect. I… am now a ball of emotion. And desperate to re-read. And and and… AMAAAAAANDA. IT’S PERFECT.

    Also, this song IS Jellicoe Road, to me. It’s a cover of the original he’s listening to with his walkman in that last chapter, but it has this warm, lazy, summer day dreaminess to it that is just so SO perfectly the book.


    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 16, 2013, 8:46 am

      This book made me want to know more about Australia. You could tell the love and care that was taken to describe the town and the land and the people.

      For the record, I love when you get carried away, Sarah.

      • Sarah (saz101) January 16, 2013, 4:23 pm

        I think Melina has this talent for really getting the kids she writes about. I think that… msot people grow up, and leave the childhood and teenage-hood in the past. It becomes a distant, murky thing. Something they remember with nostalgia at times, or bitterness with others, but never with a clear lens or uncoloured by prejudice. They (or at least *I*) lose the nuance and the reality.

        It’s like Melina never left that behind. She remembers exactly what it was like growing up in Australia and I think that, perhaps, the fact she’s a teacher (or WAS, for a very long time) helps with that?


        But… you were asking for other recommendations? I’ve only read one of her other books. It’s Looking for Alibrandi, and it’s assigned reading in high school in AU. We’ve ALL read it :D They made it into a film about 10 years ago. My friend who’s a MASSIVE MM fan says it’s her least fave of the books, but I have a lot of fondness for it. Another one that I really identified with, but, well, I *was* a teen at the time :P

        I think saving Francesca is the one everyone says is their favorite, after On the Jellicoe Road? ♥

        • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 16, 2013, 4:42 pm

          You hijack so gently and beautifully that I love it, Sarah. HIJACK MY COMMENTS MORE! (Honestly, I think your comment sold more people than my review alone did. That’s how AWESOME you are.)

          And yes–YES. I definitely see how childhood and teenage-hood (good word, btw) can get inaccessible to adults. You either need to not forget or to be surrounded by people that age.

          • Sarah (saz101) January 16, 2013, 8:38 pm

            PAH! I think you cray.
            Your review is PERFECT ♥

            I’m quite fond of teenagehood. I used it because I seriously couldn’t think of a word to the point I was like… ‘does the appropriate word exist’? Adolescence was temporarily absent form my vocabulary O__o

  • Sarah (saz101) January 16, 2013, 4:30 am


    *lip tremble*


  • Mary @ BookSwarm January 16, 2013, 6:56 am

    Between your review and Saz’s comment-box-breaking comment, I do wonder why I’ve never read this book. Obviously, this must be remedied now.

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 16, 2013, 8:49 am

      I feel like Sarah’s comment perhaps sells the book a little better than I did. lol. It’s definitely the kind of book that will meddle with your emotions.

    • Sarah (saz101) January 16, 2013, 4:17 pm

      Hehehehe. ‘Box-breaking’. You know, when I see that written here, on Amanda’s blog, it takes an entirely new meaning XD

  • Felicia January 16, 2013, 6:58 am

    WOW! Between you and Sarah (because that was a huge positive too) it sounds like it was a great read that will cause some emotional turmoil (in a good way I am guessing). :)

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 16, 2013, 8:50 am

      Sarah’s comment was definitely a huge positive! Definitely a lot of emotional turmoil here.

  • Kimberly Turner January 16, 2013, 8:09 am

    My experience reading this was about the same as yours. Took a bit to get into, but I was pretty much tethered to the book once it had sucked me in. I should read more of her books…

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 16, 2013, 8:52 am

      I definitely want to read more of Melina’s books now. There’s a certain addictive quality to them, I think.

  • Jenny January 16, 2013, 9:29 am

    I really need to read this Amanda! I’ve only read Saving Francesca, but I really enjoyed that one and she seems to write truly brilliant characters. I’m glad to know upfront about the slight confusion of getting tossed into this world with no explanation, I think that will help me when I give this one a try:) Glad to know it kept you up late!

  • Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal January 16, 2013, 9:57 am

    I can’t decide from the synopsis if this is my type of book. Yes? No? GUIDE ME, AMANDA!

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 16, 2013, 10:05 am

      I want to say, “No,” but then I’m like, “What if she would like it and I’m turning her away?!?”

      • Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal January 16, 2013, 10:05 am

        This is not helping me decide.

        • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 16, 2013, 10:08 am

          To be fair, sometimes you surprise me. I’ll be like, “I’m not sure you’ll like this.” And then you read it and you’re all, “I loved this!” And I’m all, “Huh.”

          My first instinct is to say it’s not your type of book, though. It’s slow and sad.

          • Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal January 16, 2013, 10:54 am

            *thinks about that* That is a fair assessment.

            I will say that between your review and Sarah’s comment, I was intrigued. However, I’m not so much into slow and sad right now. Or… umm… ever, really. I like it fast and dirty. No, wait. Fast and happy? No, fast. I like it fast and hard. Hitting. Hard hitting. That’s what I meant to say, I SWEAR!

  • Smash Attack January 16, 2013, 11:50 am

    Wow, you and Sarah really drove this one home! I was gifted it by Amelia ages ago and I swear, I need to make time for it. I definitely love the setting and want to read about tragedy and hope.

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 16, 2013, 1:21 pm

      Ha. Sarah really did help me sell this, didn’t she? You should make time to read this. I have a feeling your social worker side may come out. :)

      • Sarah (saz101) January 16, 2013, 8:40 pm

        I am totally stalking your comments. Social Worker side? Laura Buzo, another Aussie other, released a book last called Holier Than Thou. It’s about a Sydney social worker. I mean. As long as we’re talking Aussie YA :P

  • Kristilyn (Reading in Winter) January 16, 2013, 6:29 pm

    This looks interesting! It’s nice to read something heavy once in a while. I really haven’t read a lot of Australian writers, so I might have to try this one out. Though, I’m a little terrified of books that take a while to get into — I tend to get bored. BUT, I may have to see if my library has a copy. :) Great review, Amanda!

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 16, 2013, 6:33 pm

      There are plenty of other books by Melina Marchetta that perhaps don’t fall into the same trap as Jellicoe Road.

  • Alexa January 16, 2013, 11:18 pm

    Hmm I know I have heard about this book so many times and I always pass it up at the store. I guess I will have to stop passing it and actually buy a copy! I’m glad that it seemed to have a bit of everything to keep your interest.

    Thanks for the great review!

  • Bookish Brunette January 17, 2013, 5:31 pm

    I’ve had Jellico Road on my shelf FOREVER!!!! I so need read it!!!

  • Alissa January 17, 2013, 9:22 pm

    Yay! Glad you liked it!

    I think it’s fair to say that most who’ve read Jellicoe Road advise newcomers to stick through the beginning. I remember saying that to you, and I remember whoever recommended it to me also giving the warning. I almost wished the book started later, in the middle of everything. I would’ve been just as lost, but I think it might’ve been more easily understandable.

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 18, 2013, 9:07 am

      I don’t think I was all that bothered by the slow start. Melina Marchetta made the story interesting enough that you know you need to keep reading because it will pay off in the end. (And it did.) And now I need MOAR Melina!

  • Amy @ bookgoonie January 20, 2013, 10:46 am

    Im checking this one off my EVERYONE has read but me list this year. I have 3 Marchetta books on my shelves & still. *pulls hair* maybe when I get all my reviews caught up. It sounds like I need to BE ALL IN.

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