Last read: January 2, 2015
Every time someone tests me and asks me to say the first two sentences of this book (which, by the way, hooks you in real quick), I stare them straight in the eye and recite the entire prologue with an Australian accent thrown in just for good measure. Haha. I memorized the prologue because after reading it for the first time, I realized how perfectly it sets up the book’s mystery. Now that I have read it for the second time, I cannot believe I only gave it four stars on GoodReads instead of the full five stars.
Jellicoe Road is a multi-layered mystery that follows 17-year old Taylor Markham as she leads her House in a skirmish against the Townies and the Cadets for six weeks on their school grounds. But the leader of the Cadets this year is Jonah Griggs, the boy she ran off with three years ago to find her mother in Sydney, who left her at a 7-11 store on the Jellicoe Road when she was eleven. Hannah, her House caretaker, fetched her there and she lived with her ever since. Now, Hannah left school grounds without giving Taylor a proper explanation. Therefore, Taylor now has to manage everything on her own, including the faction wars, her complicated relationship with Jonah, her parents’ history, and Hannah’s absence.
I say that this is multi-layered because there are at least four narratives that take place at different times: the present, 3 years ago, 20 years ago, and 25 years ago. However, it does not get confusing because Melina Marchetta took it down to two narratives with the use of flashbacks and manuscripts. She intricately placed the delivery of the pieces of information about the mystery such that it allows you to form the sequence of the past by yourself and it is absolutely rewarding yet incredibly painful.
Many readers would give up on this book halfway through because the “past” narrative does not seem to go anywhere but if you are planning on reading this magnificent book, do not give up. Keep reading it until the end and I promise everything will be worth it.
The characters showed depth from the very beginning but you would only see their full dimension towards the end, where everything is starting to hurt and there is no other choice but to love them and cry for them. The things that these kids went through broke my heart but the things they did to change the direction their lives were going put the pieces back together but somehow in a different way that made it ache not with pain, but with so much love and hope.
The reason I did not give this book the prefect rating a year ago is that I did not get to appreciate the complexities of its details. It took me two reads but Marchetta really swept me off my feet with the beauty of her words and her style of writing.
You know when critics say that “this book will stay with you long after the last page is turned,” and stuff like that? Well, after I read a book with that kind of review written in its blurb, I did not actually feel it. The book just ended. That was it. But with Jellicoe Road, I finally understood. After that last page, I felt nostalgic like I was with these kids during that exhilarating six weeks and I laughed and cried with all of them. And I felt this overwhelming sadness that I might never see them again. So I guess what I am trying to say is that this book lingers. And I’m so thankful I can read it again and again. Because I will.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (from 4 out of 5)