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In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.
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 ...
In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.
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.
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
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.
Posted November 2, 2008
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. <BR/><BR/>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." <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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.<BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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.
15 out of 23 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 23, 2014
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.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 16, 2012
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.
4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 21, 2010
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."
3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 18, 2014
Posted April 1, 2014
I had been told before I started that it is one of those books that you have to stick with. Although I would have anyway, because I wanted to know what was going on, I am glad I was told that. Because this book does require a little bit of faith. It isn't bad in the beginning, not at all. It's just complex and confusing. But those are my favorite types of stories.
The story is told from the point of view of Taylor, a resident boarder at the Jellicoe School. She was abandoned by her mother on the Jellicoe Road, and taken in by Hannah, who is a bit of a mystery. She is the leader of her House, and is in charge of the territory wars--fought between the boarders, the Townies (the kids who live in the town), and the Cadets (a group of kids who come every year for the summer). But there are also parts of a different story weaved in, a story that will become part of Taylor's story (was that cheesy? sorry).
Taylor as a character wasn't anything special. There was definitely a depth and emotion to her character, even if sometimes I did feel a bit disconnected. I think sometimes the biggest issue I had with the characters is the fact that I wasn't quite sure what was going on. The territory wars were never really explained, her running away with Jonah wasn't quite explained. Of course, all of these things come to light at the end, when everything slowly begins to be revealed, but until then, it was just a lot of confusion.
And that's actually most of the book. There were a lot of events that were mentioned, or alluded to, but never really explained until the end. I don't know about you, but I am impatient with my books. I want to know what's going on now. But, that was part of this book's overall effect. It was a complex, intricate story made up of so many parts, that somehow just worked.
But this is just truly a beautiful book. It definitely is filled with emotion (and y'all know I never get emotional over my books). It is such a carefully weaved story, that at the end will leave you sitting there, thinking "What. What just happened."
So yes, I encourage you to read it. I definitely think you should give this a chance. Yes, you might be confused in the beginning, but it definitely redeems itself. That's the beauty of this book.
2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 30, 2009
I Also Recommend:
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.
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Posted May 3, 2014
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.
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Posted May 17, 2011
I found this book to be very boring. The two separate stories were both incredibly way too easy to follow (really no mystery to them) and it was so easy to see what was coming up that I kept getting frustrated that the main character didn't see it too. Argh! The only reason I finished this book is because I can't stand to leave one unfinished. Steer clear.
1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 4, 2009
This book was AMAZING!! There were a lot of twists that you wouldn't expect. JELLICOE ROAD is actually two stories. While you're reading the main story there are little excerpts from another story.<BR/>This story is told in 17-year-old Taylor Markham¿s perspective. She is the reluctant leader of the Jellicoe Boarding School Dorms, which only the students know about. Since she is leader, she has to think of strategies for the "war." While she is battling the "war" for territory against the Townies and Cadets, that only lasts 6 weeks ('til the Cadets leave), Taylor is trying to figure out the disappearance of Hannah, who has written a manuscript about 5 people¿s lives eighteen years ago, and the closest thing Taylor has to adult family.<BR/>Taylor has the feeling that Hannah finding her when her mom left her was no coincidence. A girl in her house, Jessa, seems vaguely familiar, but she doesn't know why. Taylor tries to figure out how a mysterious boy in her dreams, a stranger who once whispered in her ear, her mom dumping her then Hannah finding her, and the 5 people who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago are related. During the ¿war,¿ Taylor meets the magnetic Jonah Griggs (<3), leader of the Cadets, who she hasn't seen in 3 years. There's an obvious spark between them and it turns out Jonah knows more about Taylor than she thinks.<BR/>JELLICOE ROAD is a wonderful book and I would recommend it everyone!!! Taylor finds her true self and on the way discovers how important love, friendship, and family really are! This is a book you won't want to put down and you'll immediately be drawn to all the characters! :)
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 30, 2015
A long, long time ago, back when Obama was still using a map to get around the White House and the word “okay” wasn’t romantic in the least, I read YA author Kirsten Hubbard’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’t even find it in my local bookstore. Looking back, it seems ridiculous, the idea that this book was hard to find—not because it’s so widely known now but because books this good should be easy to find.
But it’s also fitting: In a lot of ways, Jellicoe Road is a book that sneaks up on you. It’s not the book you see on a table in Barnes & Noble but the one your friend forces into your hand after loving it so very much. It’s the kind of story that may take some time to like, but once you do, you’ll fall in love.
I didn’t have one of those experiences, by the way. I was hooked from page one. But a lot of other people—fans of the book—say it’s hard to get interested in the beginning. That it’s confusing. And I can see how that may be the case. But what they say, and what I say, is this: Don’t give up. Get through the first 100 pages or so, even if you’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’t give up.
If Marchetta’s beautiful prose isn’t enough to convince you, if you’re not halfway in love with every character in the book, then keep reading because I promise you it’ll be worth it.
In the end, Marchetta takes all of these threads she’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’ll see the brilliance in Marchetta’s storytelling.
This review could go on and on. I could talk forever about Marchetta’s writing. It’s truly beautiful:
“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—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.”
I could talk forever about the romance, which is slow-building and sweet and perfect:
“No,” I say, looking up at Griggs. “It’s actually because my heart belongs to someone else.” And if I could bottle the look on his face, I’d keep it by my bedside for the rest of my life.”
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’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—worthy of its Printz award in every way—my favorite of all time, and a novel you should most definitely read right away.
Posted July 2, 2014
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 11, 2014
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 24, 2014
Posted May 16, 2014
Posted May 6, 2014
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 6, 2014
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.
Posted May 4, 2014
Posted April 28, 2014
I almost didn't finish this. If it weren't for all the five star reviews I wouldn't have. While an excellent story, Jellicoe Road is poorly framed. It made me wonder if the editor had chopped out a couple of chapters--the ones that explained everything. With multiple characters and multiple times, the opening is challenging. If you can make it through the first 100 pages you' ll find this enjoyable.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 23, 2014