Review: On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Posted October 9, 2014 by Liza in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

On the Jellicoe Road

by Melina Marchetta
Published on August 26th, 2008
by HarperTeen
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

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.

The moving, joyous and brilliantly compelling new novel from the best-selling, multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca

5 Stars

This is one of those books that I’m sure I will never be able to do it justice.  It is SO good that I’m not sure why it took me so long to read it either.  On the Jellicoe Road is such an amazing read.

“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.”

On the Jellicoe Road is a combination of two parallel stories.  On one hand we follow Taylor’s story, a story of heartbreak, friendships and lost love.  Taylor’s story is told by her, in the first person. On the other hand, we have Narnie’s story, a story with a tragic ending that Taylor slowly uncovers by reading Hannah’s manuscript.  Both stories intercept and intertwine in unexpected ways.  I loved the mystery, the revealing of these truths.  Underlying everything is the war for territory between cadets, townies, and students that takes place once a year, when the cadets come to camp near the Jellicoe School.

Taylor is such a complex character.  She tries really hard to not care about anything or anyone because she was abandoned by her mother.  She tries, but of course, the heart cannot be controlled, on the contrary, her emotions seem to be always raw and in turmoil.  She’s a combination of strong and fragile, brave, fearless, and afraid at the same time.  As I said, complex, loyal, and trying to find the truth about herself.

Now we come to Johan Griggs *sigh* He’s the leader of the cadets and had a short past encounter with Taylor.  She was his redemption at a moment when he needed it more, but she doesn’t know it.  It’s so nice to see how he tries to protect Taylor at every turn, and at the same time trying to understand her and to support her, even if her decisions are not always sound.  He’s such a sweetie at heart and he loves Taylor so much.   Did I mentioned he’s swoony too?

Their relationship grows slowly due to misunderstandings, pride and even prejudice (*pun intended*). But, it is a true pleasure to watch.  These two characters are straightforward, honest to the point to rudeness, and perfect for each other.

“When I turn around, he cups my face in his hands and he kisses me so deeply that I don’t know who is breathing for who, but his mouth and tongue taste like warm honey. I don’t know how long it lasts, but when I let go of him, I miss it already.”

There are so many amazing characters in this book.  Besides Taylor and Jonah, we get to know Santangelo, the leader of the townies who turns into a true friend for all of them.  Raffy, who sticks to Taylor, no matter what, and who seems to have a story with Santangelo.  Jessa, who admires and understands Taylor like few others can.  Ben, who also sticks to Taylor, because he believes in her. Even Hannah, Webb and the rest of the five seem to come alive in the pages of the book. These characters are flawed, some heartbroken, some happy, some sick, some depressed, some in love, some looking for love.  I great cast of characters!

The writing is so beautiful.  I hope that the miracle of Marchetta’s storytelling continues throughout her work, I already purchased Saving Francesca so I can continue to experience her lyrical, insightful style.  The plot of the story is confusing at times, but I think that’s my fault since I started the book in audio and it wasn’t always clear to me when the stories of Narnie and Taylor. I then switch to the eBook and it went much better. I promise that it all makes sense at the end.

“This isn’t romance. This isn’t a declaration of love or affirmation of friendship. This is something more.”

Overall, On the Jellico Road is an outstanding story of loss, redemption, and the power of love. A most read.

About the cover: To be honest, the cover doesn’t do anything for me.

Have you read On the Jellicoe Road? Any of Marchetta’s books? What did you think? 


About Melina Marchetta

Melina Marchetta’s writing career took off in 1992 when she published her first novel, Looking For Alibrandi. She later turned the story into a film script. The movie Looking for Alibrandi screened in theatres around Australia and the world from 2000.

Melina managed to combine writing with teaching English and History in secondary school for ten years up to 2006, when she committed to writing full-time. During that period, she released two novels, Saving Francesca and On the Jellicoe Road.

Her first fantasy novel, Finnikin of the Rock, was published in 2008. The Piper’s Son (a companion novel to Saving Francesca) was released in 2010. She has written a children’s book, The Gorgon in the Gully, as part of the Puffin Pocket Money series.

Her novels have been published in 17 languages in at least 18 countries. Melina lives in Sydney where she writes full time.


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12 responses to “Review: On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

    • Liza

      I don’t know why it took me so long to read it! Amen to all that you said! It is intense and realistic and awesome. Thank you for your kind words Olivia 🙂

    • Liza

      Same as me! I’ve had it since forever, but recently I saw a Top Ten list (I can’t remember what it was about) and it had Jellicoe on it, and so I read it 🙂

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