Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (2008)

jellicoeroadAfter a great prologue, the story slumped into a Falkner-like muddle that I had little patience for. It would be about 100 or so pages before it sparked my interest again. And it was half-way through that I began to understand what was going on. This is, in part, due to a purposefully ambiguous story and overlapping plots. But also, in some small part, due to intermittently clunky sentence structure that I had little patience for.

“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” (p 4).

“My insides are in a million pieces and I feel like someone out of one of those tragic war movies” (p 407-8).

Or there was a cultural language gap (the author is Australian). “So while the mouths of the year twelves move and their hands threaten, I think back to my dream of the boy…” (p 3-4). I was thinking, “What the heck is a ‘year twleve’?” It took me three tries before I understood that sentence.

Otherwise, it was an emotionally gripping story of childhood frienship and tragedy. I thought the main character was more of a vehicle to tell the more involved story of her parents than a fully developed and realised character herself. But all the plots came together like an expertly written Dicken’s novel and I found myself more than satisfied (and crying) at the end. The 2009 Printz Award winner.


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