Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta - Book Review

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham 17, finally confronts her past. Hannah, the closest adult she has to family, disappears. Jonah Griggs, moody stares and all, is back in town. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.
. . . .
If there’s a novel that is given more GoodReads love than this one, I have yet to hear of it.  Browsing the reviews for Jellicoe Road, I was bombarded with 5-star rating after 5-star rating, glowing review after glowing review.  I’ll be honest; after all that, the synopsis could have been about a dancing chicken and I would have rushed over to Amazon to order it.  (It’s not, don’t worry.)

Taylor Markham is a character taken straight out of a Lifetime movie; she doesn’t know her dad and her rarely-sober mother abandons her at a 7-Eleven, sentencing her to a life at a boarding school and guardianship from the one and only adult in her life to ever truly be there for her, Hannah…until she disappears, too.  As if that’s not enough to ratchet the melodrama up to a 10, there’s a tragic story of 5 good friends being told simultaneously, one that happened in the past and slowly answers questions about Taylor’s history.

The beginning of Jellicoe Road is very confusing, going back-and-forth between both stories with little to no segue, and no idea of how they match up in any way but location.  It took me nearly half the book to really get into the story, and those pages were spent terrified I’d be the odd-man-out yet again, shrugging my shoulders at an enormously loved book and stamping my pessimistic, Debby Downer 2 –or –3-star rating on it.  Thankfully, the second half delivered on all the promises the first half laughed at, and I found myself totally immersed in a heart-wrenching story full of lovable characters, many with huge, realistic flaws.

What makes Jellicoe Road work is how it deals with the melodrama it contains.  With so many tragic events making up the life of one seventeen year old girl, this could have gone terribly wrong in less capable hands.  Marchetta manages to make it believable and relatable, never pushing it over-the-top, or cheapening the subject matter.  There are no static characters, no Big Bad Guy or flawless hero.  Everyone reacts to and is shaped by the events in their lives.  This proves to me once again that the most important thing in a story is its characterization, especially in contemporary novels.

This is hard for me to rate because of the completely different opinions I had about the first and second half.  Ultimately, though you do realize that the beginning needed to be as slow and confusing as it was to make the rest so powerful, I can’t give this the full 5 stars when it took me so long to begin to enjoy it.  I do, however, highly recommend it to readers who like a little more substance to their YA, and don’t mind having their emotions put on a rollercoaster of ups and downs.
Jellicoe Road - 4 out of 5 stars


  1. Looking forward to this book, I have high expectations of it. Hopefully not too high. Thanks for the warning about the jumblyness at the start!

    By the way, your twitter bird, not sure if he is cute or scary! I feel he is coming straight for me if I don't follow you. Thankfully I'm safe as I already do. Quite possibly Hitchcock's "The Birds" scared me for life :)

    1. I think it'll live up to your expectations, the second half really does make up for the confusion in the first. I'm just really stingy with my 5-star ratings lol.

      And ha, if it scares a few people my way, I'm cool with that. ;) Though for the sake of my blog's reputation, we'll call it cute.

  2. Oh yes, I've heard a lot about this book as well but haven't read it. Does seem like one I would like to read though, if it's one of those emotional rollercoaster type of books (I know, I'm weird).

    And ha at Trish's comment. I mean, he does seem to fly straight at you but he's got no meat on those bones! I'm sure he'd be easy to swat away if need be ;)

    1. If you like tear-jerkers, you need to read this book lol. Emotional reads are my favorites, because they touch some part of us beyond what ink on paper usually has the power to touch. It's almost magical. <---My nerd is showing.



As you may or may not know, life is eating up way too much of my spare time right now, so pretty please don't hate me if it takes me a few days to get back to your wonderful comments. I read each and every one from my phone, and they always make my day. <3