On The Jellicoe Road is one of those books that comes highly recommended by my friends at the book club. And I understand why. It talks about timeless themes of friendships, belongingness, and family, and of how relationships thrive despite having to go through grief and loss.
This book was my first Melina Marchetta and I loved it. As what most reviews say, reading On The Jellicoe Road feels like being confronted with a puzzle with a hundred pieces to put together — you start excitedly but a few pieces in, you are tempted to ditch the project and just do something else, but then you still trudge on because you see a piece and you feel that this might be a part of a very pretty picture. Little by little, as you go along, the picture gets clearer and clearer until you are almost done, putting the very last few pieces, and you feel that the effort and the journey were all worth it. The final outcome takes your breath away, you sit back and gaze upon it a few moments, reliving the memory of how you finally got to the end.
After I was done reading, I had to reread the first few chapters — the ones which made no sense the first time I read them — because I want to relive the moment and preserve the scenes in my mind. It is no surprise then that though it’s been more than a month since I finished reading, the emotions it evoked from me are still fresh in my memory. The wow moment at the end was absolutely mind-blowing and bittersweet.
I must confess that the first time I read this a few years back, I gave up after a few pages. I was an impatient reader then (until now, but at certain times only) and I couldn’t muster enough motivation to wade through the murky narration. The story is primarily told through Taylor Markham’s voice, a student at a boarding school, and first pages in, she’s already whiny and immature and very, very selfish, I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with her. There’s mention of Townies and Cadets and what-not, plus of course, the alternate narration of a story about five friends from the past, and I could not be made to wait until the story became clearer, so I gave up. But after seeing all the raves of my friends, I decided I’ll give it another shot but only when I’m ready (aka not restless, haha). The readiness came recently, and I had no regrets for not finishing it then. I feel that every book has its own perfect time to be read, and I am glad I had come to terms with my impatience and finally read this book.
My feelings for Taylor Markham didn’t change after I reread the first pages. She’s still whiny and her tantrums are annoying, but I was glad to see her character develop as the story progressed. I also hated Jonah Griggs because I was influenced by how Taylor feels about him (Yes, I am easily swayed like that. Haha.), that is, until the puzzle was finally done. I liked the dynamics about the territory wars, and they may sound childish — they really are childish — but when I finally read the history of these “wars”, I was awed of the underlying story of friendship and loyalties. I was reminded of that proverb in the Bible that says, “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” The friendship portrayed in this story are so beautiful I want to call each of my friends and plan a reunion.
“These people have history and I crave history. I crave someone knowing me so well that they can tell what I’m thinking. “
It will be an understatement to say that I cried when I got towards the end. Writing this post actually made me teary-eyed again, but that’s just me — a crybaby. Reading about Taylor’s discover about herself and her history made me feel as if my heart was being twisted and bent. I really felt too much for the characters, of how a senseless accident brought them together and changed their circumstances — and how an accident also changed their future. How I would love to reach out and give them all a hug and tell them that everything will be okay even though I know that it will not, but that I hope they would give themselves time to heal and come back again to Jellicoe Road.
Okay, I think I’ll stop right here because I am getting emotional all over again. If I have time, I’ll definitely reread this book. On The Jellicoe Road is highly recommended but I must withhold one star because of the ordeal I had to go through. Heh. 😛
“I remember love. It’s what I have to keep on reminding myself. It’s funny how you can forget everything except people loving you. Maybe that’s why humans find it so hard getting over love affairs. It’s not the pain they’re getting over, it’s the love.”
My copy: ebook