Remember Joy of 132 Minutes from yesterday’s post? Alexa is her partner in crime in maintaining their Melina Marchetta-themed blog. I thought it would be a good idea to put up their posts close together. Here’s Alexa, sharing how she first discovered Jellicoe Road.
Before I Read a Melina Marchetta Novel
Okay, I actually don’t remember the date and time. Ha! I only know all those numbers because I’m still holding on to the library receipt. And even then I was probably browsing around the library for at least thirty minutes before I went to check-out. So I don’t remember the exact second, but I do remember picking up Jellicoe Road from the library shelf, flipping it open to read the summary (again), and hoping that I like it. Because while many people were praising it on their book blogs and Goodreads, I wasn’t sure if Jellicoe Road would be for me. I had no way of knowing that three days later this little book was going to blow my mind to the point where it felt like my life had changed.
A couple weeks prior to that moment, I stumbled upon Jellicoe Road’s Goodreads page for the first time ever. I had never heard of it or Melina Marchetta before in my life. Once I saw the rating, I became curious and wanted to know why it had such an awesome rating. Unfortunately, there were some things holding me back from giving it a chance.
First off, it was a contemporary. While I had already read a few here and there, it wasn’t a genre I went out of my way to read. Jellicoe even sounded different from other contemporaries out there. Reviews mentioned how confusing the beginning was and HarperTeen’s summary made me go ‘HUH?’ It also gave me the impression that it was going to be very serious and depressing. I enjoy a good laugh, and this book didn’t sound like it would have any humor at all! So, I figured it wouldn’t be interesting or exciting, which to me meant it had to be boring.
Not only that, I kept asking myself, “Does it have romance?” I have to admit that I prefer to read books with romance. It doesn’t have to be the focus; it just needs to be satisfying. Assuming that Jellicoe Road didn’t have romance stopped me from wanting to read it. Jellioce’s summary, however, did sort of make it seem like there would be something (“…Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all” and “…the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does”), but would it be enough for me? I really didn’t think so.
For some strange reason, though, I still found myself drawn to it. And after a book blogger I followed read and loved it, I couldn’t control my curiosity any longer and had to know what was up with the novel! Now, that didn’t mean I let my assumptions and expectations go. Right before I started reading it, I totally remember thinking, ‘It’s confusing? Pssh. It can’t be that hard to figure out. I got this!’ The prologue and first chapter set me straight real quick. (I even had to draw a chart to keep track of certain characters, which was actually pretty fun.) And I started to realize how completely wrong I was about Jellicoe Road.
As I read, Jellicoe Road continued to prove me wrong again and again. It had a perfect balance of everything. The characters were incredible. There was some intense romance and friendships and lots of hilarious moments, and all the sadness I was worried about actually captivated me. I was in complete awe. I wondered how I could ever think that I wouldn’t enjoy it! And usually when I read a book there’s always something that I wish the author had done differently; however, that wasn’t the case with Jellicoe. It was flawless to me. It made me want to read more contemporary, and also made me want to give more books a chance and not come up with lame reasons not to read them.
Jellicoe Road was hands down the best reading experience I’ve ever had. I’m forever grateful to Melina Marchetta for writing a book that impacted me and changed my reading expectations. And I have a feeling her novels will always be those books I’ll go back to whenever I need to read something inspiring and truly amazing.
Thank you, Alexa! Like I keep saying the past few days, both Jellicoe Road and The Piper’s Son are my favorite Marchettas so it makes me happy that you chose to talk about one of them. Drop by 132 Minutes and check out the awesome Marchetta giveaway that they’re having.