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.
We heard her almost straight away. In the other car, wedged into ours so deep that you couldn’t tell where one began and the other ended. She told us her name was Tate and then she squeezed through the glass and the steel and climbed over her own dead – just to be with Webb and me; to give us her hand so we could clutch it with all our might. And then a kid called Fitz came riding by on a stolen bike and saved our lives.
Someone asked us later, “Didn’t you wonder why no one came across you sooner?”
Did I wonder?
When you see your parents zipped up in black body bags on the Jellicoe Road like they’re some kind of garbage, don’t you know?
When I finished reading Jellicoe Road, tears were streaming down my face and all I could do was lie in bed for the next 30 minutes, trying to calm down. An hour later, and I was still an emotional wreck. This book is beyond brilliant. It is ridiculously tragic and yet beautiful and hopeful, all in the same breath.
Jellicoe Road intertwines the story of Taylor and the territory wars between her country boarding school and the Cadets and Townies in the area, with the story of kids that lived there 20 years before. As a result of the two stories being told simultaneously, it can be a little confusing at the start. Everything is connected however and if you keep at it things will click and you won't be able to put it down- I know I said that the first thing I did was lie down and cry, but actually the first thing I did was run to the bathroom because I had been so engrossed in the story well, let's just say I forgot about anything else!
Jellicoe Road is a book that ruins every other book you try to read after it because it just blows everything else out of the water. I can't tell you anything about the characterization, or the setting or any other technical aspects about the writing in this book because I was too swept away by Taylor, Jonah (oh, Jonah...) and Narnie's stories to notice any of that. All I know is that Jellicoe Road was amazing. Just absolutely, wonderfully amazing.
Published: First published September 2006 by Penguin Australia