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Jellicoe Road
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Jellicoe Road

4.5 195
by Melina Marchetta

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"What do you want from me?" he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while


"What do you want from me?" he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.

Editorial Reviews

KLIATT - Claire Rosser
I approached this book already favorably impressed by Marchetta's previous books, Saving Francesca and Looking for Alibrandi, both set in Australia where Marchetta lives. Jellico Road is also set in Australia, which shouldn't pose any problems for American readers. What might cause problems is the complexity of the plot, the numerous characters, and the basic mystery of the connections between and among the characters, all because of a car accident that occurred on Jellicoe Road some years in the past. Let's just say that readers must be patient as they wait for the main character, 17-year-old Taylor Markham, to sort out her disturbing memories and discover the truth about herself, her mother, and just about everyone close to her. When Taylor was 11 years old, she was abandoned by her drug-addicted mother on that same Jellicoe Road. As this novel begins, Taylor is in a boarding school, and down the road is Hannah, a woman her mother's age, who has a close relationship with Taylor, but an enigmatic one. That is just the beginning of the mystery. It is revealed slowly, with plenty of action and drama. There are close friendships and there is romance, as the relationship between Taylor and Jonah Griggs changes. This reads like an adult novel in its complexity, asking much of the reader, who will be greatly rewarded and satisfied with the resolution that finally comes in Taylor's life. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
VOYA - Stephanie Petruso
Taylor Markham has been living at the Jellicoe School since her mother abandoned her at a gas station when she was eleven. Taylor's whole life is a mystery to her-from what happened to her mother and who her father was to why certain people in town are so interested in her well-being. As the Jellicoe School students begin their annual territory wars with the Townies and military school cadets, Taylor is thrown together with Jonah Griggs, the leader of the Cadets. Although they are sworn enemies, Taylor and Jonah have a history and find themselves drawn to one another. Together they begin to unravel the tragic story of the five teenagers who started the territory wars a generation before and how their lives are tightly linked with Taylor's own. Marchetta, author of the highly acclaimed Looking for Alibrandi (Orchard, 1999/VOYA June 1999) and Saving Francesca (Knopf, 2004/VOYA October 2004), provides yet another great story. The interwoven lives of Taylor and the doomed teenagers from the past create a complex tale with some great twists that readers will not see coming. It is a great choice for more sophisticated readers and those teens who like multifaceted stories and characters. Reviewer: Stephanie Petruso
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up

For years, three factions-Townies, Cadets (city kids doing a six-week outdoor education program), and Jellicoe School students-have engaged in teen war games in the Australian countryside, defending territorial borders, negotiating for assets, and even taking hostages. Taylor Markham, a 17-year-old who was abandoned years ago by her mother, takes on leadership of the boarding school's six Houses. Plagued with doubts about being boss, she's not sure she can handle her Cadet counterpart, Jonah Griggs, whom she met several years before while running away to find her mother. When Hannah, a sort of house mother who has taken Taylor under her wing, disappears, Taylor puzzles over the book manuscript the woman left behind. Hannah's tale involves a tragic car accident on the Jellicoe Road more than 20 years earlier. Only three children survived, and Taylor discovers that this trio, plus a Cadet and a Townie, developed an epic friendship that was the foundation of the many mysteries in her life and identity, as well as of the war games. While the novel might put off casual readers, patient, thoughtful teens will remain to extract clues from the interwoven scraps of Hannah's narrative, just as Taylor does, all the while seeing the collapse of the barriers erected among the three groups over the years. Elegiac passages and a complex structure create a somewhat dense, melancholic narrative with elements of romance, mystery, and realistic fiction.-Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA

Kirkus Reviews
Just when Taylor's only guardian, Hannah, disappears from the Jellicoe School campus, she must lead her classmates in secret war games against neighboring locals (Townies) and a camp of military kids (Cadets). While the gripping boundary battles among the three factions raise the reader's pulse, Taylor's search for Hannah and her relationship with Jonah, the stoic cadet commander, charge the story with unwavering intrigue. Taylor reads Hannah's autobiographical manuscript for clues and finds surprising links to her own life: Jellicoe students, cadets, war games and even Taylor's long-absent, drug-addicted mother all surface in the book, which recounts events 22 years old. Marchetta plows into a complicated story line head first, shifting between Hannah's narrative and Taylor's trials as Jellicoe School's war commander. Time flashes forward and back, histories bleed together and two generations of friends bear uncanny resemblances to one another. Readers may feel dizzied and disoriented, but as they puzzle out exactly how Hannah's narrative connects with Taylor's current reality, they will find themselves ensnared in the story's fascinating, intricate structure. A beautifully rendered mystery. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Sydney Morning Herald
“Melina Marchetta has a knack for writing stories that swallow you up and refuse to let you go until you’ve read every last word....Marchetta is a master at creating intriguing characters and her stories are heartfelt.”—
Sydney Morning Herald on JELLICOE ROAD
“Melina Marchetta has a knack for writing stories that swallow you up and refuse to let you go until you’ve read every last word....Marchetta is a master at creating intriguing characters and her stories are heartfelt.”—

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.20(h) x 1.50(d)
820L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Jellicoe Road

By Melina Marchetta
Copyright © 2008

Melina Marchetta
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-06-143183-8

Chapter One - twenty-two years later -

I'm dreaming of the boy in the tree and at the exact moment I'm about to hear the answer that I've been waiting for, the flashlights yank me out of what could have been one of those perfect moments of clarity people talk about for the rest of their lives. If I was prone to dramatics, I could imagine my sighs would have been heard from the boundaries of the school to the town down below.

The question begs to be asked, "Why the flashlights?" Turning on the light next to my bed would have been much less conspicuous and dramatic. But if there is something I have learned in the past five years, it's that melodrama plays a special part in the lives of those at the Jellicoe School. So while the mouths of the year twelves move and their hands threaten, I think back to my dream of the boy, because in it I find solace. I like that word. I'm going to make it my word of the year. There is just something about that boy that makes me feel like I belong. Belong. Long to be. Weird word, but semantics aside, it is up there with solace.

Somewhere in that hazy world of neither here nor there, I'll be hanging off that tree, legs hooked over the branch, hands splayed, grabbing at air that is intoxicating and perfumed with the sweet smell of oak. Next to me, always, is that boy. I don't know his name, and I don't know why he comes calling, but he is there every time, playing the same music on one of those Discmans for tapes from the eighties, a song about flame trees and long-time feelings of friends left behind. The boy lets me join in and I sing the same line each time. His eyes are always watery at that point and it stirs a nostalgia in me that I have no reason to own, but it makes me ache all the same. We never quite get to the end of the song and each time I wake, I remind myself to ask him about those last few bars. But somehow I always forget.

I tell him stories. Lots of them. About the Jellicoe School students and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between all three of us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river at the edge of the Jellicoe School, and of the manuscript of hers I've read, with its car wreck. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world and too smart to be merely organizing weekend passes for the kids in my dorm. Hannah, who thinks she has me all worked out. I tell him of the time when I was fourteen, just after the Hermit whispered something in my ear and then shot himself, when I went in search of my mother, but got only halfway there. I tell him that I blame the Cadet for that.

The boy in the tree sobs uncontrollably when I tell him about the Hermit and my mother, yet his eyes light up each time I mention Hannah. And every single time he asks, "Taylor, what about the Brigadier who came searching for you that day? Whatever became of him?" I try to explain that the Brigadier is of no importance to my story, that the Brigadier was just some top brass, high up in the army, who had been invited to train the cadets that year, but the boy always shakes his head as if he knows better.

And there are times, like this time, when he leans forward to remind me of what the Hermit had whispered. He leans so far forward that I catch his scent of tea-tree and sandalwood and I strain my ears to listen so I will never forget. I strain my ears, needing to remember because somehow, for reasons I don't know, what he says will answer everything. He leans forward, and in my ear he whispers ...

"It's time!" I hesitate for a moment or two, just in case the dream is still floating around and I can slip back into it for that crucial moment. But the flashlights hurt my eyes and when I'm able to push them away I can see the ignorant impatience in the faces of the year twelves.

"If you want us to scare you, Taylor Markham, we'll scare you." I climb out of bed and pull on my jumper and boots and grab my inhaler. "You're wearing flannelette," I remind them flatly. "How scared should I be?"

They walk me down the corridor, past the senior rooms. I see the other year-eleven girls, my classmates, standing at their door, watching me. Some, like Raffaela, try to catch my eye, but I don't allow it to hold. Raffaela makes me feel sentimental and there is no place in my life for sentimentality. But for just one moment I think of those first nights in the dorm five years ago, when Raffaela and I lay side by side and she listened to a tale that I have no memory of today about my life in the city. I'll always remember the look of horror on her face. "Taylor Markham," she had said, "I'm going to say a prayer for you." And although I wanted to mock her and explain I didn't believe in anything or anyone, I realized that no one had ever prayed for me before. So I let her.

I follow the seniors down two flights of stairs to a window that is supposedly the least conspicuous one in the House. I have actually mastered the climb down from my own window but have never dared to tell anyone. It gives me more freedom and means that I don't have to explain my every move to the year-seven spies in the dorm. I started off as one of those. They hand-pick you young out here.

A thorn presses into my foot through the soft fabric of my boot and I let it for a moment, pausing until they push me forward. I walk ahead, allowing them to play out their roles.


Excerpted from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta Copyright © 2008 by Melina Marchetta. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Melina Marchetta lives in Sydney. She is also the author of the award-winning novels Saving Francesca, Looking For Alibrandi, and Finnikin of the Rock. Looking For Alibrandi was released as a major Australian film.

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Jellicoe Road 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 195 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Taylor Markam was abandoned by her mother at a 7-Eleven on Jellicoe Road when she was a mere eleven years old. Only moments later a woman by the name of Hannah picked her up and brought her to the Jellicoe School. Now she is seventeen and finds that Hannah is a rock in her inconsistent life. While she has Hannah, Taylor doesn't know much about her family except the horror stories she remembers of her mother.

She does find comfort, though, in a manuscript that Hannah has written about a group of five friends who met in the worst circumstances, but developed a remarkable friendship when they only had each other. When Hannah just up and leaves, Taylor doesn't understand what has happened and she becomes a wreck. Not only does she have to deal with Hannah's disappearance, but she has just been named the head of her House and the leader of the school kids in the annual territory wars against the "Townies" and "Cadets."

In the war, the three groups battle and negotiate, following an extensive set of rules that might as well be history. As the war wages on, Taylor learns to take an active role in her community, as well as develop relationships that she never thought possible. Especially with Jonah Griggs, the leader of the Cadets, whom she already has quite a history with.

This war will be like no other. It will not only be between the normal three parties, but among friends, hearts desires, and, most of all, Taylor herself.

From the title I was expecting a light and fun read. Wow, was I wrong! This book is filled with heartbreak, joy, laughter, and sorrow. It completely blew me away and surpassed every expectation I had, even though I was expecting something completely different.

Before I even get into the elements of the story I have to comment on how much talent the author has. Melina Marhetta's writing style is indescribable. It seemed that she was so comfortable writing the story and her words just flowed from page to page with great clarity. I loved how the author weaved many intricate details and mini-stories into one big story, making it like a puzzle that slowly comes together until those last couple of pieces just fall into place.

The only miff I had with this book is that it took me probably until the third chapter to actually understand what was going on. In the beginning, there were two stories and it was hard to wrap my head around everything that was happening. After that, though, it seemed the author settled into writing and the story took off.

Taylor, without a doubt, is one of the best characters that I think has ever been created. She has this true voice where you can hear and feel her emotions ring out. By the time the book had ended I felt like I knew Taylor like I know my best friends. While Taylor was the main character, the author did a fabulous job creating the other characters, too. Unlike many supporting characters in books, the characters in JELLICOE ROAD all had their own voices and became their own people, with real and likable personalities.

I highly recommend this book to readers everywhere. Whether you're a girl or a guy, you will treasure this novel and hold it near and dear to your heart for a long time to come. JELLICOE ROAD is a beautiful love story, a heart-wrenching story of loss, a poignant self-discovery, and, most of all, an unforgettable tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Entirely too many plot spoilers here giving away too much of the story line, one of which even gives away the ending. Bn, please put a stop to the plot spoilers. Limit the amount of space so they cannot rewrite the book in the reviee section.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's heartbreaking and beautiful, and the moment you finish you'll want to pick it up and start again because it will all come together. Two profound stories seemlessly woven together. If you only read one book for the rest of your life, let it be this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The beginning was very hard to understand. I wanted to stick with it, just to finish the book. However, it got more interesting around the middle. Very hard to get there though.
AnthonetteLoraine More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely amazing. Though it may have been confusing in the beginning, you start piecing it all together and understanding it more towards the middle and the end.
sandyemerson More than 1 year ago
Oh dear, I'm going against a fan favorite here. I'd heard nothing, but good things about this book, so I thought why not give it a go. I don't know what to say about this book that doesn't give away the fact that I'm just not swept up in this book as everyone else seemed to be. The sad thing is I think I should have been. The novel is about a girl who hunts for her mom and the truth after being abandoned when she was younger, but there's also underground school war games, romance and friendship. Sounds great, doesn't it? But, to me, it was just 'meh'. There is nothing obvious about the book that I should feel this way. Melina Marchetta wrote a wonderful novel. The plot is sound, the characters - Taylor and Jonah are great. It's not even the scene sequences as I have read the 'Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern' and I absolutely loved it. I guess I'm just one of those readers who has to connect with the main character right from the very start and it has to have a great hook in the first chapter and, to me, it just wasn't there. Instead. there was utter confusion, and the feeling that I had somehow started reading it halfway through the book. To be honest, the first half of the book was so boring that I almost gave up reading it. It was the second half of the book that redeemed the book from having the lowest rating.
Sarah7498 More than 1 year ago
Taylor Markham was a really interesting character; she has a true voice and I really felt for her. I was so eager to find out about her past, and future. Five kids from the pasts' story enter-lace with Taylor's, starting with the boy in her dreams; and the tension between her and Jonah was incredible and excited me every time he came in. When I finished this book, I found that I was seriously in love with it. Whenever I'm asked, "What's your favorite book?" I have a hard time answering, but Jellicoe Road is definitely it. I don't think any other book in the whole world has had me this addicted. I read the whole thing in one day, stopping only to eat and use the restroom. The emotion, the characters, the plot...everything was amazing. So many people say they couldn't fully like a book because it was sad, but I sobbed at the end of this one and still LOVED it. This book also has one of my favorite quotes: "Hold my hand, hold my hand because I might disappear."
Angieville More than 1 year ago
I picked JELLICOE ROAD up as a result of the fact that it came away with the Printz Award this year. It is Australian Melina Marchetta's third book and the first of hers I've read. A fault that will have to be remedied quickly as I absolutely loved this knotty, painful, beautiful book. Taylor Markham is head of her house at the Jellicoe School--a backwoods boarding school located somewhere in Australia. Abandoned by her mother at a 7-Eleven on the Jellicoe Road, Taylor was taken in by a mysterious woman named Hannah and installed at the school. Now eighteen, Taylor is embroiled in turf wars between the Jellicoe students, the Townies, and the Cadets. But when Hannah up and leaves without a word, Taylor is convinced it has something to do with her mother and with a horrific accident that happened on the Jellicoe Road twenty-two years before. Past and present become harder to discern as the story unfolds. Simultaneously obsessed with and terrified of finding out what happened and just how closely it is tied to her own fragmented life, Taylor is forced to form alliances with the leaders of her rival gangs, including Cadet leader Jonah Griggs with whom she shares a confusing and painful history. This story grabbed me by the throat and shook me until I begged for mercy. Parts of it read almost stream of consciousness and you have to just let it wash over you as characters and histories distill and become clearer on the page and in your mind at about the same pace they do for Taylor herself. And by the time the wars really begin, you are so invested it's impossible to extricate yourself from the world Marchetta has created. Fortunately you don't want to. I was charmed by the dust and heat of the Australian summer, the layered language with its overtones of fear and longing, and the periodic chapters detailing the story of five children who were determined to survive after the world ended. This book will both stop your heart and then remind you how to breathe again. It's gorgeous and deserves every accolade it gets.
toniFMAMTC More than 1 year ago
It took me awhile to figure out what was going on in this book. There are related stories from the past and present being told at the same time. Also, the present has a lot of different aspects. It all connects and wraps up beautifully. Even though it wasn’t immediate love, since it took a bit for all the details to connect for me, I ending this story loving it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read this one multiple times and it continues to one my favorites. Keep reading! The begining seems a little confusing but, by the end everything makes perfect sense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would have read this book even if it didn't have a plot. The way the characters and world are shaped is so realistic and relatable that I found myself practically living on Jellicoe Road with them while I was reading. Both the current teenagers and the doomed ones of the past were poingnant and full of faults and life. Perhaps that is what made them so beautiful. As for the plot, I felt like it was intentionally fragmented between past and present because Taylor was living in both past and present, trying to piece herself and her history together. And so was Jonah, Jessa, Hannah, and the rest of them. We just have to accept the fragments we're given and hang in there until the end, when everything falls into place. All in all, this a truly excellent book, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys realistic fiction, beautiful, almost poetic prose, fascinating characters, and books that grip you and change your perspective on the world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A long, long time ago, back when Obama was still using a map to get around the White House and the word &ldquo;okay&rdquo; wasn&rsquo;t romantic in the least, I read YA author Kirsten Hubbard&rsquo;s blog post about her favorite book, Jellicoe Road. It quickly became my favorite, too, which is why I was shocked today when I discovered I had never reviewed it. Must. Fix. Immediately.  Back then, I had never heard of Jellicoe Road. Couldn&rsquo;t even find it in my local bookstore. Looking back, it seems ridiculous, the idea that this book was hard to find&mdash;not because it&rsquo;s so widely known now but because books this good should be easy to find.  But it&rsquo;s also fitting: In a lot of ways, Jellicoe Road is a book that sneaks up on you. It&rsquo;s not the book you see on a table in Barnes &amp; Noble but the one your friend forces into your hand after loving it so very much. It&rsquo;s the kind of story that may take some time to like, but once you do, you&rsquo;ll fall in love. I didn&rsquo;t have one of those experiences, by the way. I was hooked from page one. But a lot of other people&mdash;fans of the book&mdash;say it&rsquo;s hard to get interested in the beginning. That it&rsquo;s confusing. And I can see how that may be the case. But what they say, and what I say, is this: Don&rsquo;t give up. Get through the first 100 pages or so, even if you&rsquo;re confused. Even if you have no idea where this is going or how these unrelated storylines connect or why some chapters are italicized. Don&rsquo;t give up. If Marchetta&rsquo;s beautiful prose isn&rsquo;t enough to convince you, if you&rsquo;re not halfway in love with every character in the book, then keep reading because I promise you it&rsquo;ll be worth it.  In the end, Marchetta takes all of these threads she&rsquo;s been weaving throughout the novel and ties them together in one of those complicated knots that look way easier to tie than they actually are. Which is a much wordier way of saying the pieces of this story come together slowly and intricately, and by the time you hit The End, you&rsquo;ll see the brilliance in Marchetta&rsquo;s storytelling. This review could go on and on. I could talk forever about Marchetta&rsquo;s writing. It&rsquo;s truly beautiful: &ldquo;My body becomes a raft and there's this part of me that wants just literally to go with the flow. To close my eyes and let it take me. But I know sooner or later I will have to get out, that I need to feel the earth beneath my feet, between my toes&mdash;the splinters, the bindi-eyes, the burning sensation of hot dirt, the sting of cuts, the twigs, the bites, the heat, the discomfort, the everything. I need desperately to feel it all, so when something wonderful happens, the contrast will be so massive that I will bottle the impact and keep it for the rest of my life.&rdquo; I could talk forever about the romance, which is slow-building and sweet and perfect: &ldquo;No,&rdquo; I say, looking up at Griggs. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s actually because my heart belongs to someone else.&rdquo; And if I could bottle the look on his face, I&rsquo;d keep it by my bedside for the rest of my life.&rdquo; I could talk forever about the two stories and how they connect and how at the very end I was in tears over it all. How I cry each time I read this even though I know how it&rsquo;s all going to shake out. I could talk forever about Jellicoe Road, but I only need to say this: This is a really wonderful book&mdash;worthy of its Printz award in every way&mdash;my favorite of all time, and a novel you should most definitely read right away.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book had me hooked from the first sentence up until the last sentence with it's carefully laid out plot. I found that the struggles Taylor had to deal with were both realistic and heartbreaking at the same time. I'm seventeen, the same age as most of the main characters in this book, and it's such a nice change from a typical teen novel where everyone has the same shallow problem as the next person. This book is real and it's personal and it really gets you thinking about the people around you and makes you realize how much you should appreciate them. I have to admit I got a little lost a couple of times, but I promise you it's worth reading the whole book. Once you figure out the first piece of this magnificent puzzle, everything slowly fits together and it's just amazing. Jellicoe Road is now one of my favorite books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A few of my friends really liked this book, I thought I would too. But I just found it really hard to get into, and even at the end I wasn't blown away. It was just okay, for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! I really enjoyed reading this story! I loved the plot and the characters! I love how the story weaved and intertwined until all was laid bare! Beautiful story!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting plot. The problems was the first 1/2 of book was confusing. I only stayed with it because other reviewers recommended to stick with it. But 1/2 the book stuck in confusion is too long. But I thought the plot was interesting twist. I just couldn't believe that the adult characters would let all the sadness and confusion continue her life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book can be hard to read so I imagine it was hard to write. It starts off slow and a bit confusing but that makes it a mystery. And it pays off with a bang. It is a coming-of-age story. It is a first-love story. It is a family-is-what-you-make story. It is a war story. Simply put it is perfection. Read it and weep. Literally.