Why did I want to read it?
I’ve been a fan of Melina Marchetta since she first made me cry my heart out in On the Jellicoe Road. And I guess you can say I’ve been a a bit crazy because I continue to read her books knowing she will break my heart over and over again. I do this because I know she has the type of magic that can put the pieces of my broken heart together again.
What worked for me?
There is something so captivating about the way Melina Marchetta weaves a story. And this is one of the reasons I continue to read her work. How everything seems to connect amongst all these seemingly separated pieces that when everything starts falling into place, you just can’t help but say, ‘but of course!’ And even when in the beginning, you kind of find yourself a little lost, there is this trust that everything will make sense in due time. For me, this kind of trust allows me to just be welcoming of whatever it is that is to come in the story, no matter how painful, but at the same time reassured that the pain will mean something.
Oh, the characters. They’re so human, it’s ridiculous. But in the very best way. Often times we read about characters that seemed like real people but they still have that book-ready or book-quality characterization to them. But Melina Marchetta’s characters have always been a little extra in that category in that they seemed like real people. Nobody’s perfect, everyone makes mistakes, everyone says things they’ll regret. Life’s tough for them sometimes but they get some pretty good things in life, too. It’s that balance or that great combination of fiction and reality that endears me to the story and the characters.
Jimmy and his need to find his family, Rosie and her regrets about hers, Martha and her search for direction, and the rest of the gang (from Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son) and their adult-ing (for lack of a better term) issues. I loved the journey that I took with these characters. It was especially surreal, reuniting with the gang after two books with years of growing up in between. I knew them but they grown up and grew as people, just like I have with all this time that had passed, that it was great to catch up and discover the kind of people they have become so far.
And lastly, Melina Marchetta’s words, of course! She punches you with her lines and not the kind you get from a joke, although there were some funny and witty lines in there. The punch of course comes from the way she strings her words to bring out emotion, from the characters and from her readers.
What did not work for me?
I couldn’t help but compare it to The Piper’s Son. And because that book just crushed me–I loved everything about it–the emotional punch of The Place on Dalhousie did not quite match that one. But that is not to say that it was lacking in that category. It was just that I had high hopes that it will bring out the same level of emotions from me. I have an inkling that it might have to do a little with the pacing in some of the part especially in the beginning. It was jarring for a bit of a time.
My over-all take on it?
This was still such a great read. I continue to be amazed by the stories that Melina Marchetta creates. If you love reading about flawed people, resilient people, people who love and endure, then I suggest you go grab a copy of this one. If you love complex stories with multiple plot points that come together in intricate ways, read this now. If you’ve been watching out for what happens to the gang now that they’ve become adults, this is your chance! And if you’re simply looking for a really good book about communities, love and relationships, family, friendship, and with the right amount of realism in there, look no further.
Melina Marchetta’s novels have been published in eighteen countries and in seventeen languages. Melina’s first novel, Looking for Alibrandi, swept the pool of literary awards for young adult fiction when it was published, winning the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Award for Older Readers among many others. It was also released as an award-winning film, winning an AFI Award and an Independent Film Award for best screenplay, as well as the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award and the Film Critics Circle of Australia Award.
Melina taught secondary-school English for ten years, during which time she released her second novel Saving Francesca, which won the CBCA Book of the Year Award for Older Readers, followed by On the Jellicoe Road, which won the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2009. Melina’s next novel, Finnikin of the Rock, won the Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and was followed by The Piper’s Son, the critically acclaimed companion novel to Saving Francesca. Melina has also written a book for younger readers, The Gorgon in the Gully, which was released in 2010. The second book in the Lumatere Chronicles, Froi of the Exiles, was published in 2011 to much international praise. Melina has completed her second screenplay, On the Jellicoe Road, which was chosen to be part of Screen New South Wales Aurora Script Workshop, and she has also written episodes for ABC-TV’s Dance Academy. The final novel in The Lumatere Chronicles, Quintana of Charyn, was released in September 2012. A companion short story to the Lumatere Chronicles, “Ferragost” was published in the Review of Australian Fiction.
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Have you read Melina Marchetta before? Are you as excited as I was to know more about what happened to the gang now that they’re all adults? Btw, who’s your favorite? 🙂