Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Book Review - On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Series: N/A
Original Publication Date: August 28th 2006
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Mystery
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Pages: 290
Goodreads | Book Depository

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 leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs - the enigmatic leader of the Cadets, and someone 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.

How do I begin to talk/review On the Jellicoe Road? To be perfectly honest, I’m not even sure it’s possible. However, I am still going to ‘review’ it as I want everyone to read this book if they haven’t already. On the Jellicoe Road is just…beautiful. There’s no other way I can think of to describe this book. Seriously, just go and read it if you haven’t already and all will be revealed to you.

This is the first Marchetta book that I’ve read, despite having several of her novels on my TBR for what feels like forever. I’m so, so happy that this is the first one that I’ve gotten around to reading, but also a bit worried that On the Jellicoe Road may be setting my expectations a little too high…(a bit like The Fault in the Stars did for me with John Green.) However, I am certainly more eager to read another Marchetta novel, specifically Looking for Alibrandi because I have a copy of that and that was written prior to On the Jellicoe Road and I am curious to see how her writing developed…now I’m just blabbering on like usual. Sorry about that. I just can’t seem to help it when I’m writing a review for a book such as this one.

The beginning of the book is confusing, there’s no doubt about that. I had no idea what was going on and I really believed that I wouldn’t like this book when it was over. However, knowing that my friend Katie loves the book so much, I kept pushing. And, bit by bit, I started piecing things together. The further I got, the more I found myself enjoying this book.

I feel honoured, in a way, to have shared Taylor’s journey with her. Taylor is a remarkably strong character, even when she couldn’t find it within herself to be strong. She’s gone through more than the average person has, and more than what anyone should have to go through.  The ending of the novel was magnificent, and as each of the links between the story within the story were discovered, I felt myself falling more and more in love with this novel.

Not only was Taylor a strong lead, the novel also revolves around several other side characters each as well-thought out as the next. Jonah Griggs, Taylor’s love interest in the novel has his own terrible backstory, but that doesn’t stop him being willing to sacrifice everything to be of aid to Taylor. He’s intense, but with the right amount of sweetness and I’m sure everyone who reads this book will fall in love with Jonah even in the smallest way.

Raffy and Santangelo were also great characters. I felt as if they were quite strong and well-formed for side characters and they both provided the novel with a touch of…something. It’s hard to explain what I mean when I say that. I think you really need to have read the novel to fully understand what I’m trying to say here. The easiest way to put it is this: if Raffy and Santangelo weren’t as well-thought out, I don’t think the novel would’ve had the same special spark that it does.

Not only did I enjoy the story of Taylor and Jonah and Raffy and Santangelo, I enjoyed reading about the lives of the five children who lived along the Jellicoe Road twenty years before this story takes place; Webb, Fritz, Jude, Narnie and Tate. The voices of these characters were so real and it is evident that not only did Marchetta take her time to plan the story of Taylor, Jonah, Raffy and Santangelo, she always took the time to fully shape Webb, Fritz, Narnie, Jude and Tate. If you’ve read the story, than you know that it’s necessary that these characters existed, but I think if perhaps this novel was written by another author, they wouldn’t of been as fluid as they were.

Overall, On the Jellicoe Road is a beautiful book. You laugh, you cry (I literally had tears rolling down my cheeks consistently for at least the last 100 pages), and you want more. I think that this book is definitely an Australian classic and I won’t be surprised if it is classed as a ‘modern classic’ in a few years time. Now that I have finally shut up, GO AND READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW.

If you've read this book, what did you think of it?

Until next time,


  1. I'm glad you loved this book! Melina Marchetta is one of my favourite authors, and all her books are great - I don't think you're setting the bar too high! I loved 'Jellico Road', but my favourite is 'Saving Francesca' - it's just fantastic. I actually didn't like 'Alibrandi' as much as the others, even though it's the most famous (and there's a movie of it). I hope you get the chance to read another of hers soon!

    1. I'm so glad to hear that, Annabel! I am planning on reading Looking for Alibrandi next month, as I already have a copy - but I am trying to get a hold of Saving Francesca ASAP! Thanks for stopping by. :)

  2. My sister has a copy of this and has been wanting me to read it, or another one of Melina Marchetta's novels, for ages, but I have never really been inclined. I think when I have a space where I'm not reading anything in particular, then I'll pick it up, but even after reading your review, where you are clearly in love with this book, I'm not entirely won over, though I'm thrilled you liked it and really enjoyed reading this review.

    1. Thanks Romi, I admit, even though I want everyone to read this book and love it as much as I do, it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. However, I cannot recommend it enough. Who knows? Maybe you'll fall in love with it too. :) x

  3. I agree it's definitely a beautiful book. I was so confused at the beginning and I at one point I was thinking about putting it down, but I am so glad I didn't as I ended up loving it! I heard there's going to be a movie, too.

    Great review. :)

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I've heard that it's going to become a movie soon-ish too, so that will be interesting to see.

      Thank you. :)

  4. I have this book waiting on my bookshelf, so happy to see that you loved it so much! I bought it on a whim because I'd seen it so much on blogs but haven't felt an urge to really pick it up. After reading your review though I really want to go grab my copy and dive in! Sounds so good. Thanks for the great review :)

    1. Ooh, I can't wait to see what you think of it! Thank you. :)

  5. I've been tossing this book up for a while - I want to read it, because it's Melina Marchetta, one of Australia's best female authors, but I'm not sure if it sounds like something I would enjoy.
    Never mind that, though, because I really want to read it now. *grabby hands*
    Great review, Ebony! Found you through Deadly Darlings feature, and I think it's awesome that you vlog, as well! I'm Brea, and It's great meeting another Aussie blogger. (:

    1. I hope you enjoy it Brea! Ooh yay! Three cheers for Aussie bloggers! It's great to meet you too. :)

  6. I started reading this last year, but couldn't get into it. As you said, the start was too confusing. I really had no idea what was going on. I loved Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca though, they were pronominal. Marchetta writes the Aussie European family with so much realism and wit, definitely give those a read. I'll have to try this one again, it sounds incredible once you get past the confusion.

    1. Aw, that's such a shame, Kelly! I can't wait to read more Marchetta in the furture! :) I hope you enjoy this one when you give it another try.


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