Posts tagged ‘jellicoeroad’

April 25th, 2011

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Saving Francesca

Author: Melina Marchetta

Published: May 31, 2006

Number of Pages: 243

Rating: 4/5


Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastians, a boys’ school that’s pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas who specializes in musical burping to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.

Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself. [From Goodreads]


I miss the Stella girls telling me what I am. That I’m sweet and placid and accommodating and loyal and nonthreatening and good to have around. And Mia. I want her to say, “Frankie, you’re silly, you’re lazy, you’re talented, you’re passionate, you’re restrained, you’re blossoming, you’re contrary.”

I want to be an adjective again. But I’m a noun.

A nothing. A nobody. A no one.


If I could write ballads or sonnets or, well, anything that resembled poetry and didn’t rhyme something like “party” with “tarty”, I would write a sonnet/ballad/poem that expressed my devoted readership to Melina Marchetta. Goodness knows she deserves it (and deserves better, actually, because it would still probably be terrible). Jellicoe Road blew me away and has since stuck with me. I think of the paths and grounds around the boarding school whenever I visit the land my family owns and imagine building a tree house or fort. I love that feeling I get when I look at something and memories come to me that aren’t mine, but belong to characters in a book. Melina Marchetta creates stories that you feel are yours. Saving Francesca was not a disappointment in this regard (or any other).

There are certain characteristics that hit you right off, such as Melina’s totally amazing (why can’t I think of a better adjective? Even “astounding” and “awe-inspiring” sound cliché.) prose. Next, the expert way she introduces back-story without losing you and manages to flesh out Francesca’s voice in the process. There are just so many things to learn from a writer’s perspective by reading Melina Marchetta’s novel. Even more importantly, there are so many things to admire from a reader’s standpoint as well.

Saving Francesca is undeniably a story of characters. The plot was not the seed of the book, but the characters, and from that sprouts a fascinating web of events and scenes that will keep your eyes locked to the page. I was surprised by how many secondary characters Melina manages to juggle, and though sometimes they blurred for me (that could be credited to how quickly I read it – one afternoon), they added elements to the main plot and additional subplots that the book could not have “lived” without. I absolutely adore the characters in this book. The friendships – specifically the odd but organic development of the friendships – between these characters are inspiring and, honestly, SO CUTE. They have their little animosities, they have their bigger ones, but in the end, they benefit more than they lose from being close.

Francesca’s life has certainly taken a turn for the worst, and by beginning with a drastic change in lifestyle and family, there is so much more room for development and growth and “coming into herself”. I loved watching Francesca as she blossomed – that tight, caved-in, constricted feeling of her personality at the beginning, the cracks that slowly wound their way about her, and the eventual and gradual burst of FRANCESCA! that we’re left with at the end is fabulous.

I think what I really admire about books like this is the fact that they are absolutely bursting with everything that constitutes life. I said something similar about Looking for Alaska, actually. There’s this pull I have toward books that juggle difficult situations in which people are forced to confront every ghastly emotion imaginable. Hatred, frustration, self-loathing, disappointment, guilt, confusion, etc. The more severe the bad feelings, the more gorgeous the good ones. Because of some of the crazy and, admittedly, depressing emotions Francesca and the other characters felt, I got to witness the expansive range of human qualities that fill up our lives, all in 243 pages.

Unfortunately, this book also has a few of the features I dislike – such as swearing and some sexual conversation, but it’s certainly cleaner than Looking for Alaska or Jellicoe Road. It’s so often that the books I really love have this content I despise, and it’s all so confusing. However, it doesn’t feel wrong recommending this book to YA readers 14 or over. If you’re a parent, I’d recommend reading it yourself and then making a decision, but it really isn’t too bad.

Overall, Saving Francesca is all those adjectives I can’t think of. Think synonyms of beautiful, astounding, and exceptional. Better yet, skip all that and think: I need to read this.

April 7th, 2011

There’s Something About Surveys…

by Madeleine Rex

(This post is super late. However, it’s currently 11:01, Supernaturally is waiting for me on my lap, and I’m sleepy – so here you go!)

Some people hate them.

I love ’em.

I have this odd fondness for surveys and “fill-ins.” You know that information you have to fill out when you buy something online? My dad detests filling it out and hands it over to me instead. So, naturally, I jumped on the chance to fill out a “The Best of 2010 in Books” survey! (And thanks to Audrey for bringing it to my attention!)

Best Book of 2010:

Oh, gosh. Anything I rated a 5? I’m going with Paranormalcy by Kiersten White for books published this year. As books that weren’t published this year go: Looking for Alaska by John Green and Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.

Worst Book of 2010:

Dark Song by Gail Giles.*

*Many people have enjoyed this book. Don’t be scared away.

Most Disappointing Book of 2010:

The Thin Executioner by Darren Shan*.

*Same goes for this book!

Most Surprising (In A Good Way!) Book of 2010:

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. It completely blew me away, despite the ridiculousness of the premise!

Most Recommended-to-Others Book of 2010:

There are a few:

  1. Looking For Alaska by John Green because it’s outstanding.
  2. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White because it’s darling.
  3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak because it’s one of the most incredible books I’ve ever read.

Best Series You Discovered in 2010:

Ooh! There are too many!

  1. The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa because they’re fantastical and gripping.
  2. The Paranormalcy Series by Kiersten White because I’m in love.
  3. The Seven Kingdoms by Kristin Cashore because they’re astounding and surprising.

Favorite New Authors Discovered in 2010:


  1. Kiersten White because she’s hilarious.
  2. Lauren Oliver because of Delirium, really.


  1. Melina Marchetta because of her exquisite characters.
  2. John Green because of the same thing. He and Ms. Marchetta are in the same boat.

Most Hilarious Read of 2010:

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. No doubt!

Most Thrilling, Unputdownable Book of 2010:

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Talk about a heart-wrenching, mind-boggling page-turner! (I like hyphens…)

Most Anticipated Book of 2010:

Ask my friends, ask my loved ones… It was Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

Favorite Cover of a Book You Read in 2010:

It’s apparent that I’m very indecisive. I’m choosing three – again.

  1. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  2. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
  3. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Most Memorable Character in 2010:

All male characters whose names begin with a P?

Oh, wait. You want a real answer? Then I’d probably have to go with Evie from Paranormalcy. There’s no one like Evie.

Most Beautifully-Written Book of 2010:

Either Looking For Alaska by John Green, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, or Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, none of which have been or will be published this year, but I did read them this year…

Book That Had the Greatest Impact on You in 2010:

More than one…

  1. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  2. Looking For Alaska by John Green

Book You Can’t Believe You Waited Until 2010 to Read:


  1. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  2. Looking For Alaska by John Green (and the rest of his books!)
  3. Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore

Goodness! The most interesting thing about filling this out is seeing what books pop up more than once. Those are the gems! They are timeless.

P.S. I’m too lazy to link every book to amazon, but please do look them up! I also have reviews of all of them hidden somewhere on my blog.

June 27th, 2010

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Jellicoe Road

Author: Melina Marchetta

Published: September, 2006 by HarperCollins

Number of Pages: 432

Rating: 5/5

Quote: Please excuse the long quote. I excerpted the entire prologue because it’s brilliance at its purist. Read it. And then read the book, because you’ll be aching for more. Also, this particular bit isn’t from the POV of Taylor (the main character), but from a book within the book that plays a key part in the story.

My father took one hundred and thirty two minutes to die.

I counted.

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?

Wonder dies.”


There’s something incredibly fantastic about a book you don’t read. It’s an entirely different experience to look at a page and not see words, but pictures – a world that feels so real it could be mistaken for this one. The moment you open the covers of the book and find your place, you are no longer sitting in your living room, on your bed, or in the car. You are living the story.

Jellicoe Road transports you into the world of Taylor Markham, a seventeen year old girl attending Jellicoe School (which, coincidentally, resides right next to Jellicoe Road. See how that works out?). At least, she has been since Hannah Schroeder took her under her wing after her mother abandoned her when she was eleven in the bathroom of the 7-Eleven on Jellicoe Road.

Life at Jellicoe School is consistent, something that Taylor was in dire need of for most of her childhood. It’s not until it’s Taylor’s turn to be head of her dorm and for the territory wars between the Townies, Cadets, and Jellicoe School to resume. Not until Jonah Griggs, head of the Cadets and the occasional pain in the butt, returns for the summer and Taylor is forced to confront their all-too-public past.

When Hannah leaves town suddenly on top of all else, Taylor’s problems seem to expand. Not only must she work worry about Hannah, but Hannah’s manuscript – a story of five friends who lived on Jellicoe Road years before – seems to be taking on a life of its own. And it soon becomes apparent that Taylor’s inexplicably tied to these five friends in the story.

This novel is magic. Its words woven together into something soft, warm, and beautiful. You’re comfortable inside it. Melina Marchetta is a phenomenal writer, and I’m dying to read more of her work. She enchants you with the seamless ease of her words. Sentences flow beautifully from one to the next to the point that you’re not reading word by word or sentence by sentence or paragraph by paragraph, your reading moment by moment in the story.

I particularly loved the excerpts from Hannah’s book. The moments we spent with the five were splendid. By the time Jellicoe Road was finished with, I was satisfied with Taylor’s story but dying for more of the five’s. I could happily have read an entirely separate novel dedicated solely to them. Both captivate you from moment one. In fact, the prologue of the novel (the quote above) is part of the five’s story and clearly amazing. I’ve read it multiple times because its perfection never ceases to startle me.

Taylor is a great main character. I understood her enough to feel for her, root for her, and be able to like her even when she irritated me (which wasn’t too often). There wasn’t a moment at which I felt like pinching her and telling her to open her darned eyes and see what’s in front of her. Her character enhanced the experience rather than extracting from it. She had some blissfully clever lines, too.

I think the most wonderful thing about the novel was the depth of the story. So many emotions swim murkily beneath the surface of this novel. I laughed, I laughed more, and in the end, I cried. The feelings were so palpable. I could touch them if I reached out my hand.

The characters throughout the novel are as real as the people crowded around me in this plane (and I mean, really, really crowded). I could practically smell them. This book is run by characters. They have the final word in everything. The plot relies on their actions, their feelings. I loved the banter between the friends, particularly between Santangelo – current leader of the Townies – (love. That. Name.) and Griggs. If not for the story or Marchetta’s writing capabilities, read this story for them. They deserve your attention and the love that you will inevitably have for them.

Jellicoe Road is a work of art. The emotion that seeps from every page pries away any guard you have against it until you succumb to the feelings as well. The characters will creep into your being and steal a bit of you away for safekeeping. The writing will seduce you. Live this novel. It’s worth the emotional risk.