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.
Taylor is 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.
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta is one of those novels that you see everywhere, and I mean everywhere. I haven’t seen one negative review of this novel since I heard about it, so I am sure most of you are staring at the overall low rating and gaping in disbelief.
Taylor our protagonist lives at a boarding school on the Jellicoe Road. Abandoned by her mother and an enigma to those she shares a house with, Taylor lives in a strange sort of limbo. Taylor is plagued with dreams that seem to hold more meaning than she can grasp and responsibility and decisions she struggles to accomplish. But this year when the territory wars start up again Taylor is fighting for more than just land.
I have to admit that for the first a hundred and fifty pages or so I was a little overwhelmed by the multitude of new information and plot lines. The territory wars were a little underexploited, I honestly had no idea what was going on, and the flashbacks through me for a loop. I spent the first half of the novel sifting through all these plot threads and characters and exasperatedly but excitedly trying to piece things together. Then just as I had come up for air the plot picked up and sadly became a little predictable. I do not like dream sequences and flashbacks, frankly these two styles of writing tend to turn me away from a novel. So you can imagine the amount of cringing I did flipping through a novel where probably a good third of it was told through dreams and memories.
In spite of this, I was enamoured with Fitz, Jude, Webb and the others, the subject of these flashbacks. Their close-knit adventurous dynamic was entertaining and heart-wrenching. This is not a romance, not at its core. It’s a story about loss and friendship and my heart hurt because their story was so tender and mournful. Honestly once I got into the rhythm of the flashbacks I was more drawn towards these characters than Taylor and her friends. I was lost when it came to the relationship between Taylor and Jonah, it was underdeveloped and seemed to lack the same profound meaning as those between Webb, Tate and the others.
Luckily, the author manages to write very little and say so much at the same time. Her writing at first glance seems simple, but it’s profound in its simplicity. The beauty behind Melina Marchetta’s works is that she conveys deep-seated themes like family, death, regret and forgiveness through effortless dialogue and descriptions. It was gritty and raw.
Honestly, explaining this book is impossible, it’s complicated and has a lot of depth that cannot be properly conveyed in a couple hundred words. I encourage everyone, despite my own review, to go read this novel and construct his or her own opinions.