Dropping Everything for Jellicoe Road

Alison Morris -- June 17th, 2008

Each time I think I know ABSOLUTELY what book or ARC I’m going to read next, another one comes along that is irresistible to me at that moment and replaces another at the top of my "READ THIS NEXT" pile. It’s a deadly cycle. Deadly, in that some of the books that were once my reading pile frontrunners eventually drop so far down as to never surface again.

What I rarely do, though, is stop reading one book in the middle in order to pick up another. I don’t do well with reading multiple books at a time. I like to give each one my undivided attention, from the first page to the last.

But every now and again, maybe once or twice a year, a book comes along that is just TOO irresistible — one that I just have to read RIGHT NOW. And today it’s the ARC for Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (HarperTeen, August 2008), which was just hand-delivered to me by my Harper rep. I’m stopping halfway through the adult book I’ve been reading (Stalking Irish Madness), because I JUST CAN’T WAIT to start this one!!

If you haven’t read Saving Francesca, you might not understand my unbridled Marchetta enthusiasm, If you have read it (or even Looking for Alibrandi), then you’re probably salivating with envy right now, wishing you could get your hands on Jellicoe Road too.

As soon as our lovely Harper rep, Anne DeCourcey, handed off the galley to me I opened it, read the first few sentences of the prologue, stopped, shook my head, made Anne and Lorna pause in their sales call, then read the prologue out loud to them. AND NOW… I’m going to share it with you. After reading it I’m betting you’ll want to read this book too.

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 miles 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 straightaway. 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.

Want to read more? The first half of Chapter One (which appears to be the entirety of Chapter One in the Australian edition of the book, called On the Jellicoe Road) has been posted at Insideadog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *