Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

What do you want from me?" he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.

This is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. The prose is utterly breathtaking. Melina Marchetta's writing makes it too easy to get caught up in the words, caught up in the uniqueness of this beautiful story. It's heartbreaking yet wonderful at the same time. A rare combination. It's a book that's touched me in a way that few books have. One that literally makes my heart ache when I read some of it's passages. The plot line is so intricate and full of mystery and complexity. I cannot say enough good things about this book.

Taylor Markham is one of the most real main characters I've ever read. Her narration is raw and honest and just so real. At the beginning of the book she was broken and angry from all the betrayal she thought she endured. It seemed that everyone she loved abandoned her. Little by little she begins to learn the truth, and that changes everything she thought she know. Watching the change in Taylor from the beginning to the end of the book was amazing. While reading, I felt like I was solving every part of this mystery along with Taylor. I loved that she was strong-willed, yet confused, and all she wanted was to be loved.

Every single character was wonderful. They too were as complex as Taylor was and all had their own stories. Jonah Griggs was perfect for Taylor in a completely imperfect way. And though throughout the first half of the book the fight more than they get along, you easily get caught up in the romance that they claim isn't a romance and are rooting for Taylor and Jonah. Raffy is such a supportive best friend. Then there's Santangelo, The Brigadier, Hannah, Jessa. All these characters easily could've been real people. They were so well fleshed out and despite the extensive number of characters, not one of them felt unnecessarily

Now, the mystery of this story lies with Hannah's manuscript. A manuscript that tells the tragic story of Tate, Narnie, Webb, Fitz, and Jude. Taylor's been reading bits and pieces of this manuscript for ages, relishing in the story and the love that these characters had for each other. But it was not just a story. And for the purpose of not spoiling the story I will say no more. But let me say that it was these passages of the story that got to me the most. From the very first page of the prologue, I'm already shaken up and left breathless. These are the words that begin the story.

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 kilometres 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.

We heard her almost straight away. In the other car, wedged into ours so deep that you couldn’t tell where one began and the other ended. She told us her name was Tate and then she squeezed through the glass and the steel and climbed over her own dead – just to be with Webb and me; to give us her hand so we could clutch it with all our might. And then a kid called Fitz came riding by on a stolen bike and saved our lives.

Someone asked us later, “Didn’t you wonder why no one came across you sooner?”

Did I wonder?

When you see your parents zipped up in black body bags on the Jellicoe Road like they’re some kind of garbage, don’t you know?

Wonder dies.
Are you not already speechless? I was.

This book deals with many heavy topics such as death and loss, violence, substance abuse, and suicide. But the way it's written is unlike anything I've ever read. I just can't say enough how much I've fallen in love with this book. I read it for the first time two summers ago, and I can honestly say I got so much more out of it not than I did the first time around. It's just such a compelling story. One of the biggest MUST-READ's there is. There are an endless number of quotable passages, and I will end this review with one of my favorite passages from the book.

It's funny how you can forget everything except people loving you. Maybe that's why humans find it so hard getting over love affairs. It's not the pain they're getting over, it's the love.


Anonymous said...

Ooh, it sounds like an awesome book - especially with that excerpt. :) Love it! Plus the main character has the same name as me. ;)