On The Jellicoe Road [re-read]

On The Jellicoe Road [re-read]

by Melina Marchetta


Taylor is the leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs – the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.
And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother – who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

Quote: “I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.”

Quote: “My father took one hundred and thirty two minutes to die.
I counted.
It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’d ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-La. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of kilometres away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father said that it was about time the four of us made that journey. I remember asking, “What’s the difference between a trip and a journey?” and my father said, “Narnie, my love, when we get there, you’ll understand,” and that was the last thing he ever said.”

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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.

jellicoe-quotes-the-loveI feel like her stories have a soul. Like her characters are living beings, trapped in 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.


“If you weren’t driving, I’d kiss you senseless,” I tell him. He swerves to the side of the road and stops the car abruptly. “Not driving anymore.”

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.


jellicoe-quotes-changed-my-lifeMeet 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.


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.


jellicoe-quotes-if-i-want-moreThey 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!

ro Note: A Romanian version of the review can be found here.

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

Every now and then I re-read this book and every time it’s a different kind of heartbreak, I notice new things, see it with new eyes – it’s the same but I still feel like I’m reading it for the first time, which is also kind of strange.
… Yeah.. I am quite crazy about this book (pun intended)

jellicoe nails

Those are not my hands (they belong to a friend of mine), but when I saw her nails I just had to take a picture and share it with you all. Fabulous, now I want poppy nails too!


I am starting to love these flowers more and more 😉

Visual Quotes:


Book Quotes:




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33 responses to “On The Jellicoe Road [re-read]”

  1. Sophy says:

    This is one of my favorite books too. You are right, it is pure awesomeness. 🙂

  2. Millie says:

    You must really love this story. Make me want to read it too.

  3. Caroline says:

    Hey, where’s the happy dance? 😛 I envy you so much for this copy, I want it so badly too <3

  4. Rashika says:

    I really shouldn’t have read this review while sitting in ‘public’. Too many emotions. Too many memories. It’s overwhelming.

    Beautiful review Ari

    (I am also jealous of the fact you got the copy with the original cover)

    • Ari says:

      Thanks, hun, every time I think of it I get a bit teary-eyed. Such a wonderful story!
      PS: that book was the best birthday present I’ve ever received!

  5. Stella says:

    Oh, those words, those images.. I wish I’d written all that, it’s just how I feel. Great review, Ari!

  6. Lucy says:

    I never heard a bad thing about this book. Everybody loves it and this review makes me want to love it too, LOL. I need to get my hands on it, and soon.

  7. Christina says:

    Wow, wonderful review! New follower.

  8. Daniellle says:

    Beautiful! Like many of your reviews!

  9. Lis @ The reader lines says:

    I read this book because of you!
    Thank you!

    • Ari says:

      Oh, Lis, I am so happy that you liked it too. This book holds the most precious spot in my heart! So it was all my pleasure 😉

  10. ASH says:

    So excited to read this book, what a beautiful review you’re amazing and I’m SO EXCITED RIGHT NOW! I was referred to it on this website that said it was similar to The Fault in Our Stars and some of Rachel Vail’s work (one fo my favorite authors!) Your review just sealed the deal, I’m going to pick it up tomorrow! XO

    • Ari says:

      I didn’t get to read “The Fault in Our Stars” as I don’t thinkmy heart could take it, but be assured that “On The Jellicoe Road” / “Jellicoe Road” is an amazingly beautiful story and I hope that you will love it as well.
      Just keep in mind that the first 100 pages are a bit hard to get, things are unclear and there’s a lot of mystery, but after that all is clear, so do not give up on it! 😉

  11. Lea Peerstrup Magnussen says:

    Sinde you have mentioned this book so many times, i figured that i just had to read it – so i bought it and it is definately the best money i have ever spent on a book! Perfect combination of love, friendship and mystery about the past! I must say that I wish that the story was longer since i was done in only three days. I got sort of addicted, so i guess that i will try another of Marchettas books as well! Thank you very much for opening my eyes to this book, it was definately worth it!
    Another thing that you’re right about: Midnight is the best time of the day to read!

    • Ari says:

      I love reading, but when it comes to writing reviews all I want is for people to see how beautiful some stories really are and to love them as much as I did.
      So thank you, this means a lot to me!

      And yes, Marchetta is a great writer, I deeply recommend her “Lumatere Chronicles” series (starting with “Finnikin of the Rock” and ending with “Quintana of Charyn”) which is absolutely fabulous as well. With every book the story gets better and even sometimes I am not sure if “Jellicoe..” or “Lumatere…” is my favourite story, LOL. Both are simply wonderful!

      As for midnight, then there’s none interrupting me, so it’s my favourite time of the day – I can peacefully read as much as I want ;))

  12. Amy Zhu says:

    I’ve seen and heard quite a lot of good things about this book so I went out to borrow it and I’m not sure if it’s just the first couple of chapters but I find it to be quite confusing. Perhaps as I read on, things will be clearer and more will be revealed but until then, quite hard to grasp the situation of things.

    • Ari says:

      Hang on in there, Amy, the first 100 pages are hard to understand (with so many characters and perspectives) but after that point it will all become clear. I really hope that you will enjoy it, let me know your thoughts either way 😉

  13. Nils says:


  14. Tj says:

    So… I’m going to read this book, I was about to buy Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and as I saw your review here, I’m really curious about the book. Goodluck to me haha.

    • Ari says:

      Jellicoe Road can be a hit or a miss, but it is such an emotional story, I really hope that you will enjoy it. Also it is slow, very slow in the first 100 pages, and confusing as well (or as hell :p ), but it is well worth it. As you know it is my favourite story in the world.

      I will do a research about Attachments, though I am not that much into Rainbow’s writing – read one book, left one in the middle. Still this one sounds fun at first sight, maybe I’ll read it some day.

  15. Sue Holmes says:

    Brilliant review. Just ordered this book online and now I can’t wait the few days it’s going to take in the post!

    • Ari says:

      Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I did. Everyone I know loved it and though the beginning might be slow and confusing, it is one of the most complex stories I’ve read.

  16. Sarah Taylor says:

    This is one of the most amazing books I have ever read. Finished it in 5 hours simply because I couldn’t put it down..I had to keep going and find out what was happening next.

  17. jcxw says:

    Love your review! This book is phenomenal, and it completely wrecked me. It’s been weeks since I finished it, but it still haunts me. I wrote a review about it over at my blog (https://thewritesofpassage.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/book-review-jellicoe-road-by-melina-marchetta/), if you’d like to check it out!

    ~ Joyce

    • Ari says:

      Though this review is from mid 2013, I read it first in 2011 (or even the ending of 2010, not so sure anymore) and it still haunts me. It is my top favourite book and I think that it will still be for a very long while. I am happy to know that you enjoyed it too, this book deserves all the attention it can get and so much more! Happy reading!

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