Title: On the Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Release Date: August 28th, 2006
Length: 419 pages
Source: Gifted in the Enchanted Book Exchange swap by Kaitlin at Reading is My Treasure
At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor’s the reluctant leader of her school’s underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can’t avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.
Why did I wait so long to read this book?! On the Jellicoe Road is absorbing, emotional, and thrilling. There’s mysteries, and questions abound (both for the MC and the reader). There’s a thread of magical realism and mysticism. There’s romance and tension and friendship and grief. There’s complex characters and simple characters, smart humor and character growth, and the charm of Australian things.
(That last one may be less charming to Australian readers, but for someone who didn’t know what a singlet was, or why there would be a school for orphans and arsonists in the middle of the bush, it was lovely. And educational!)
In short, it had all my favorite things, more or less. And as a result, I had a difficult time putting it down- I finished it in 6 days. I felt compelled to keep going, and definitely tied up with the MC, Taylor, even though she’s rather spiky and cold sometimes. There are urban truths in here, too, that it’s difficult not to flinch away from. And so much raw vulnerability at times, it hurt.
I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys lyrical fiction with a bit of mystery, intelligent contemporary YA, ensemble casts that are all very realized characters, and character-driven narratives. Also, Australia.