Our Tattoos


So when we decided we were definitely going to get tattoos, (we were, then we weren’t, then we were… etc.) the first dilemma we faced was; where would we go to get tattooed? Being from Melbourne, this was a more difficult decision to make than it normally would be because we had to rely heavily on website photos. Fortunately, Rachel had a friend of a friend that hailed from Umina and was able to recommend a tattoo shop, specifically referring us to one tattooist. Unfortunately, when we called to book, we were unable to get in with that specific tattooist because we had left it too late due to our indecision over getting tattoos, but we were fortunate enough to secure a spot with another tattooist at the same shop. His name was John.

I got my tattoo first and, as usually happens, John asked about the story. I told him that we were on a road trip from Melbourne, visiting sites from Melina Marchetta’s books. He dutifully asked who this was (*eye roll and sigh*) and I asked if he had heard of Looking For Alibrandi. John’s face lit up with recognition while he told me that it was one of his wife’s favourite movies. And then he told me something that made the story so much better. Tattooist John was friends with the guy who played the lookalike John Barton in the scene where Josie sees whom she believes is John, when in actual fact, it’s not. Coincidence? Perhaps. Awesome? Hell yeah! (You may remember us mentioning this a while back.  Click here for the original post.)

To cap the story off, I had to move my car (surprise, surprise) and, when I left, I turned to Rachel and made the reference that was waiting to be made from the moment that John was formally introduced to us. I said ‘Bye John’ before closing the door and walking away. Granted, it would have been much cooler had I not started laughing hysterically half way through, but you get the gist. – Annette


*** Please note my explanation may contain SPOILERS.

Deciding on what quote to get from my all-time favourite book was incredibly difficult. I spent a long time thinking about it, as 1. There is so very many quotes to choose from, and 2. It’s a tattoo. I’m stating the obvious here, but considerable thought should always be put into something that’s going to be on your body for life. Annette and I agreed that we would attempt to pick a short quote each, which narrowed it down a bit. I ended up agonising over two quotes – ‘Wonder dies’ and ‘I wonder’ – that are similar in wording but very different in meaning.

‘Wonder dies’ is from the prologue, which is probably the  most heart-breaking piece of writing I’ve ever read and yet, one I have endless amounts of love for. It is, without a doubt, one of  my favourite passages from OTJR.

‘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.’

‘I wonder’ are the final words from the book (not including the epilogue).

‘I look at Hannah, waiting for the answer. And then she smiles. Webb once said that a  Narnie smile was a revelation and, at this point, I need a revelation. And I get one.

‘I wonder,’ Hannah says.’

My interpretation of these quotes is that they are essentially opposite to each other in meaning. ‘Wonder dies’ is an explanation of the depth of Narnie’s grief; the loss of her ability to experience amazement/marvel/astonishment – some of the basic feelings wonder provokes in you – due the extreme trauma she goes through, watching her father die and being forced to see what the car crash did to her mother. As a result of the death of her parents, Narnie battles depression for much of her life. During her teenage years in particular, she doesn’t have any hope and lacks the will to live. To me, ‘I wonder’ is significant coming from Hannah (Narnie) because it shows the re-occurence of her ability to feel these emotions.

So to summarise, the deciding factor for why I eventually chose ‘I wonder’ as opposed to ‘Wonder dies’ is because I prefer to be reminded of hope, rather than despair.


Deciding on a quote from OTJR to permanently imprint onto my body was probably the hardest decision of my life. The problem, as you would know if you’ve read the book, is that there are too many to choose from. I was able to rule out a lot that were too long or were dialogue, but I was still left with far too many. Eventually I decided on ‘Long to be’.

Usually when people ask what it means and I start to explain that it means ‘belong’ I can almost feel their eyes rolling as they presume I’m going to embark on a tale of woeful musings about how I don’t fit in. Then I roll my eyes because they clearly a) have not read the book and b) probably don’t have the intellectual capacity to comprehend it anyway so I usually end up just going with ‘it’s from a book’.

But I’m sure that our lovely readers fit into neither of these categories (well…you may not have read OTJR but I am sure you would love it if you did) so I will proceed to share my love of this quote. If you haven’t read the book, you may want to stop reading now as there may be *SPOILERS* depending on your definition.

In the beginning of the book Taylor says “There is just something about that boy that makes me feel like I belong. Belong. Long to be.” At this point, (from my perspective anyway) it does represent a sort of woeful misery of teenage angst and not fitting in, but as the story unfolds you learn the power of those words. You learn the importance of family and community and the need to belong, particularly for Taylor who has so often felt displaced in her life. But it’s not only Taylor who is searching for that sense of belonging, it really is an overarching theme to the book. In the end, some of the final words are “A home to come back to every day of their lives. Where they would all belong or long to be.” And it’s no longer said with a sense of yearning or despair, but with so much hope and love that it makes you feel all warm and gooey on the inside. So, for me, ‘Long to be’ not only signifies the importance of human connection, which I believe is a fundamental need and desire, but also a very basic re-telling of the story from beginning to end and, aside from tattooing the entire novel on myself, that’s the closest I think I am ever going to get.


This hilarious image is one of our recent attempts to get both our faces and respective tattoos to fit all in one photo. It sort of worked….


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