While I was planning Marchetta Madness, I knew I had to ask my good friend Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliophile to do a guest post (FYI she’s a fellow Melina Marchetta AND Megan Whalen Turner fan). I was delighted when she said she’ll do one about Saving Francesca, one of Marchetta’s contemporary YA novels. Give it up for Brandy!
When people first began telling me I had to read Melina Marchetta’s books all the recommendations revolved around Jellicoe Road. I, in a completely typical move to only partially do what everyone was telling me, read Saving Francesca first instead. I of course followed it up quickly with Jellicoe Road and any other Marchetta book within reach, but Saving Francesca has remained my favorite and is the one I come back to most often. When I am in a bad mood or just feeling like life is working against me that is my go to book to feel better. Strange I know. It is not your typical “feel good” read. However books speak to us all in individual ways and that one never fails to make me feel better. Why is that?
I think it is mainly because I have had so many similar experiences to Francesca, but they are also different enough that reading her story doesn’t make me feel as though I’m reliving my own past. That is one of the aspects I appreciate most about Melina Marchetta’s writing, her ability to write such individual and complex characters that can still hold a universal appeal. I can see a little of myself in all of them, but they all have such unique personalities that I can never mistake them for myself and can therefore learn from them. Reading Saving Francesca is also the reminder I need on bad days that friendship is important and that the community we are a part of can make or break us. This is a common theme in all of Marchetta’s novels, but the ways it plays out in that one speaks to me the most. I have a tendency to want to seal myself off from the world and not want to deal with other people because it’s messy. Francesca’s story reminds me of the impact we have on each other as a group of friends and the way one small part of a community can change the greater community as a whole.
It should also be noted that I very much like Will and that plays a major role in my love for rereading this book. Of all the Marchetta boys he is the one I probably hear the least about, but it doesn’t get much better than him as far as I’m concerned. (Probably because he reminds me of my husband. You know that line where Francesca thinks, “I’m in love with a droid!”? I have this same thought at least three times a day.) I love the banter between the two of them and how the ways they are different from each other is what makes them so perfect together. Sigh.
And now I am feeling overcome with the urge to read the book again right this minute. And I’ll probably follow it up with a little bit of The Piper’s Son as well because how could I not?
I agree, books speak to us all in different ways. Thank you, Brandy, for sharing with us why Saving Francesca means so much to you. Also for giving Will some love – I think he took quite a beating in some of the other Marchetta Madness posts/comments. You’ve convinced me that I need to reread both Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son soon.