Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Jellicoe Road
Melina Marchetta
August 26, 2008
432 pages
Young Adult Fiction

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 book was … different.  I’m not sure how much I can say about Jellicoe Road, considering I was beyond confused for the first half, sort of bored in the middle, and loved the ending.  Weird, huh?  Yeah, I thought it was weird, too.

I honestly am not sure what made Jellicoe Road the recipient of the 2009 Printz Award.  That sounds pretty cold, but I just mean that for me personally, nothing really stuck out about this book far and above other YA books I’ve read and enjoyed.  The beginning was extremely confusing (and at first, I thought it was just me, but the more reviews I read the more I realize that a LOT of readers have felt this way).  So confusing that I had a tough time keeping people (and the groups they “belonged” to) straight.  There were a TON of elements to this book, perhaps too many even, but they definitely made for interesting reading.

Once I got over being completely lost and started to have a grasp of what was going on with the characters, I almost found myself bored with the story.  I think that in the middle of the book there was a little too much down time – there was action, definitely, but it wasn’t anything that made me care about the characters or more interested in their lives.

However, the ending was actually very well done, in my opinion.  Everything really came together seamlessly, and I was very touched by the last few pages of Jellicoe Road.  I liked the fact that all the storylines which I had so much trouble understanding in the beginning suddenly made perfect sense at the end.  I think I would have been happier for them to have made sense all along, but at least I closed the book with a clear picture in my mind. 🙂

I’m sad that Jellicoe Road didn’t do it for me, because I do have high expectations for award-winning books.  It is clear that this book has a lot to say, I guess I just didn’t “get” it.  Perhaps you may enjoy it more than I did?

More reviews –

9 thoughts on “Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta”

  1. This sounds really interesting and your review makes it more interesting. I’ve read books like that and appreciate your honesty about it not working for you.

  2. I loved Melina Marchetta’s first two novels – ‘Looking For Alibrandi’ and ‘Saving Francesca’, both of which are beautifully written.

    ‘Jellicoe Road’ is a complete departure from her usual style and I think I only read 2 chapters before giving it up in despair. It made NO SENSE to me whatsoever! Glad I’m not the only one.

    I really do recommend the first two novels I mentioned though, they’re both gorgeous.

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