On the Jellicoe Road was first published in Australia in 2006 (by Penguin Australia) under the title On the Jellicoe Road. The young adult novel was awarded the 2008 West Australia Young Readers Book (WAYRB) Award for Older Readers.
It was published in the United States in 2008 under the abbreviated title Jellicoe Road by HarperTeen and went on to win the 2009 Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association.
The story is set around the life of Taylor Lily Markham. At 17 years of age, she is the leader of the boarding school on the Jellicoe Road (in country NSW/ACT).
Taylor was abandoned at the 7/11 store on the Jellicoe Road by her mother when she was 11. Her only recollection of her father is a brief memory of standing on his shoulders.
The only adult influence in Taylor’s life is her mentor/guardian and home tutor Hannah. She lives in the unfinished house by the river and writes stories about five kids who lived there in the 1980s. Hannah suddenly vanishes at a time when Taylor really needs her.
To top all of Taylor’s problems off, there is a territory war going on between the boarders, the Townies (kids from the Jellicoe Town) and the Cadets (Sydney boys who come for a six-week training exercise every year to Jellicoe). The leader of the cadets this year happens to be the boy Taylor ran away with when she was 14 in search of her mother. He is the one who betrayed her trust and whom she never wants to see again.
Running parallel to Taylor’s story is the story that Hannah writes, about the five kids in the 1980s. As Hannah has not yet compiled it, the story is shown in pieces throughout the novel with her handwriting.