Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Jellicoe Road
By Melina Marchetta

To Sum It Up:

At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her addict mother at a 7-Eleven on the Jellicoe Road. Now head of her House at the Jellicoe School, where some students are wards of the state, Taylor struggles to settle into her new leadership position. Besides being head of Lachlan House, she’s also in charge of the school’s secret Underground Community, which engages in a yearly territory war with two other groups, the Townies and the Cadets. Taylor’s life becomes even more complicated when Hannah, the only constant adult presence Taylor has really known, disappears one day. Taylor’s only remaining link to her is Hannah’s manuscript, a seemingly fictional story that is more relevant to Taylor’s life than she could have ever thought possible.


Whenever I read something that is as stunning as Jellicoe Road is, I find it extremely difficult to adequately capture in words how amazing the book is. This is the best contemporary YA novel that I’ve read to date. Everything is perfect: the writing, the characters, the plotting. I loved Melina Marchetta’s epic fantasy Finnikin of the Rock and found Jellicoe Road equally impossible to put down.

One of the many things that I admire about Marchetta’s novels is the amount of depth that she gives to her characters. They’re always complex and never clich├ęd. Their dialogue is smart and free of cringe-inducing platitudes. I found it very easy to root for Taylor. As the story unfolds and you find out just how hard her life has been, it’s a heartbreaking realization. I got a bit teary-eyed a few times. That’s not to say that the book is one big weep-fest, though. There are plenty of snappy exchanges between the characters to make you laugh. Throughout the novel, there is always a balance between the book’s heavier subject matter and its more lighthearted moments.

Jellicoe Road is also a fantastic story of unwavering friendship, which is epitomized by the characters from the manuscript within the book. Tragedy brings them together, and an unbreakable bond forms between them. I also really liked Taylor’s friend, Rafaella. She struck me as the type of person who’s there for you no matter what, which is exactly what Taylor needs.

A note about the previously mentioned manuscript: Jellicoe Road has a book-within-a-book thing going on with this manuscript, which Taylor’s mother figure, Hannah, has been working on. At first I was a little confused by the manuscript excerpts which were interspersed with the main storyline. Their relevance quickly becomes clear, though, and when everything comes together, the payoff is immense. I urge anyone who reads this book to stick with it even if it sometimes seems as though the story is jumping around. You’ll be richly rewarded for your efforts.

All in All:

I should know better by now than to borrow Melina Marchetta’s books from the library. As soon as I finished the copy of Finnikin of the Rock that I borrowed, I bought my own copy. The same thing happened with Jellicoe Road: I borrowed it from the library, then ended up buying my own copy. Note to self: in the future, just BUY all of Melina Marchetta’s books from the get-go!


  1. Sounds so good! Any book that you borrow, and then immediatly go out to buy a copy for yourself MUST be great!

    Awesome review!!

    1. Thanks! I cannot recommend this book enough; it's just so beautifully written.


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