It took me 113 days to write a full review.. I counted.
Reading (at least one of) Marchetta’s stories should be one of the “10 things to do in your lifetime”.
Seriously, this woman is one of the most creative people alive, one of the most amazing writers I came across and I wish I could put into words the actual awesomeness of this book, but I feel a bit at a loss for words – well, once again.
In fact, I should invent a new language with a dictionary full of ways to praise her talent.
Because Melina Marchetta doesn’t only write books, she creates entire worlds full of fleshed-out characters and shattering emotions, and after you read about them you feel like you’re the luckiest person in the known Universe and beyond. Because not many people in this world are able to feel what she makes you feel, and not many authors get to create such strong connections between the characters and the reader.
I feel like her stories have a soul. Like her characters are living beings, trapped into a fantasy world, waiting for us to come and listen to their stories. They seem to breathe through our emotions, and I don’t remember a moment when I didn’t feel something (deep) towards this story and these wonderful characters.
Marchetta’s words sing to me, they reach into the deep core of my own soul, they make me laugh through tears, they break my heart into thousand pieces but they also put it back in together, making it beat in a whole new rhythm, making it love and ache on a different level.
Once again, the complexity of the plot in “On the Jellicoe Road” left me lightheaded, in awe, even though I knew what was coming my way. It’s been a while since the last time I read this book and I felt it all all over again: the confusion, the despair, the hope, the heartbreak, the happiness. My teary eyes could barely read and I was left breathless too many times to count. I loved EVERYTHING about this book, after all this time it is still my favorite story and I really hope that when (and if) you read this book you will be able to feel just a tiny-tiny part off all these blissful emotions flowing through my heart right now.
How much heartbreak can a heart take?
On the Jellicoe Road is a roller coaster, a story meant to break hearts – one about true friendship and love, about forgiveness and salvation, about hope and disappointment, about life and death and everything in between.
It simply left me in awe again because there is no tiny detail, there is nothing less important in this story. Everything has value, all words have power – to make you laugh or cry, to dream and hope.. and the real beauty of it is connecting all the threads in this fabulous piece of art.
But as heartbreaking and intense as it might be, it is also fun, and I found myself smiling more than once. So don’t go thinking that this is a depressing book, it is not; it has the perfect balance between joy and sadness, between delight and heartbreak – but don’t believe me, see it for yourself!
I can’t put into words how much compassion I felt towards the characters in this story. I don’t think there’s one that didn’t leave an impression on me. Some times they made me laugh (even through tears), some other I just wanted to hold them close to my heart and protect them from all the hurt in their lives.
She is one of the most complex characters I came across.
All that she does – how hard she tries to push people away, how much she craves for love and history, how hard disappointment breaks her every time a little more, how difficult it feels for her to take root, how deep her pain feels .. all this speaks of her strength and her weaknesses, because there is nothing black or white when it comes to Taylor, but somehow we get to love her nevertheless, to care for her, to understand her and to wish for the truth to bring her some peace of mind.
There are many things that could have broken her – the abandonment of her mother, the history that seems to be stolen from her, the memories she can not trust, the hermit that killed himself in front of her and the words he said but she can not remember, Jonah’s betrayal, and the last drop is how Hannah (the woman that took care of her in the last few years) disappears, how the only constant in her life vanishes and there is no one to tell her what happened with her.
All she was left with is a story that Hannah used to write (one that Taylor couldn’t figure out, but she felt that in it there was an answer to the questions she never asked); a war against the townies and the cadets (now that she is the leader of her group); a dream of a boy in a tree (whispering to her to her; that brings her solace); the quest to find her mother and -more than all that- the need to belong.
Her life is a whole mystery that she needs to solve in order to figure out where she belongs.
It’s scary how I found myself in Taylor, in a way.
Sometimes the books we love tell us more things about ourselves than about the characters and the author. And maybe that’s why this is my favorite story – because the connection between Taylor and I is stronger than what I felt with any other character – I can understand her, I know where she’s going, what she wants and what/why she’s scared of.
Meet the cadet. The leader of the cadets. The boy from the train station a few years ago. The boy that’s said to have killed his father. The boy that betrayed Taylor’s trust. The boy that broke Taylor’s heart.
Every year, for 6 weeks, students from a military school camp near Taylor’s school and the war begins. This time, as the leaders of two of the 3 enemy fractions, Taylor and Jonah will have to come face to face again – to unbreak what once has been broken, to heal the hurt in their hearts, to make us smile, to make us giggle, to make us tear a bit inside.
The connection between these two was so strong – the history, the teasing, the flirting, the fighting, everything is deeper that you might think. The way they saved each other, the way Taylor opened her heart to Jonah and trusted him, the way they care for each other – it’s all so strong, so genuine, so heartbreakingly sweet.
He is the leader of the townies and a boy that knows more about Taylor than herself. Also he is the one that brings her some vital information about some things that happened 20 years ago – because history likes to be surrounded by mystery but it also searches for ways to resurface, to catch up and make up for lost moments.
The 5 kids
I can’t say much about them without terribly spoiling the story for you, but I need to let you know how deeply I felt for them, how much their story took my breath away, how much it broke my heart and how important they are in this story – well, if I think about it, just as much as all the others. Let it to Marchetta to make you love all her characters.
There were 2 more characters that I loved and I need to tell you about: Rafaela that was such a great friend (I wouldn’t have guessed that in the beginning) and Sam that was such a cutie (and her story made my heart break a bit more). But be assured that all characters got to grow though the book, and they all seemed to have a voice and a story to tell.
They were fun!! They have been started 20 years back out of boredom and love and they were being taken pretty seriously. Still, bending the rules of these games brought some humour into the story and we needed a good laugh when things started to feel heavy and our heart started to break with understanding.
This war was brilliant and it represented a lesson – one about trust and friendship. The tension between the characters was entertaining and made me want to turn the pages like there’s no tomorrow. The kids started by fighting each other for territories, went through many negotiations that made their relationship grow and our smiles show on our face, and slowly this also showed Taylor a thing or 2 about friendship, about how it feels not to be alone, about how it feels not to make assumptions, about how it feels to let go of grudges and just smile at the world.
Every time I read “On the Jellicoe Road” it simply takes my breath away.
I fall in love with this book all over again, it hits me full strength no matter how well I think I know the story, it makes me smile and cry and sometimes both in the same time, all while I get drunk on the beauty of Marchetta’s words. Pure talent, pure Aussie awesomeness!
Read my first short review here!
Happy midnight reading!
PS: I feel like the luckiest person alive for having this beautiful edition, thanks to Melina,
and I will cherish this treasure for as long as I live!
Oh, wait! Is that Jonah coming to life? :p