I loved Jellicoe Road so it should come as no surprise that when I saw Saving Francesca and Looking for Alibrandi in the bookstore last Saturday, I grabbed copies of both. I have been curious about Melina Marchetta’s other books ever since I finished reading Jellicoe Road and I was glad to see that her other books are available here.
Here’s the summary from Melina Marchetta’s website:
“Most of my friends now go to Pius Senior College, but my mother wouldn’t allow it because she says the girls there leave with limited options and she didn’t bring me up to have limitations placed upon me. If you know my mother, you’ll sense there’s an irony there, based on the fact that she is the Queen of the Limitation Placers in my life.”
Francesca battles her mother Mia constantly over what’s best for her. All Francesca wants is her old friends and her old school, but instead Mia sends her to St. Sebastian’s, an all-boys’ school that has just opened its doors to girls. Now Francesca’s surrounded by hundreds of boys, with only a few other girls for company. All of them weirdos – or worse.
Then one day, Mia is too depressed to get out of bed. One day turns into months and as her family begins to fall apart, Francesca realizes that without her mother’s high spirits she hardly knows who she is. But she doesn’t yet realize that she’s more like Mia than she thinks. With a little unlikely help from St Sebastian’s, she just might be able to save her family, her friends, and especially herself.
My copy has the cover in the upper right and while I find it cute, I don’t think it represents the story inside very well. The cover makes the book look chic lit when it’s not so I thought I’d post another cover that seemed more appropriate. I’m glad that this book isn’t lengthy and I was able to finish it one sitting. I also like the fact that her books are standalones and can be enjoyed on their own. Although there are some common themes present in her writing such as family, friendship and first love.
I loved that Francesca was sent to study in a previously all-boys Catholic school and she’s clearly out of her element. None of her friends from her former school are with her and the school is still adjusting to having girls studying there. Added to that are Francesca’s problems at home. Her formerly vibrant and super active mother suddenly just stopped getting out of bed and this affects the whole tight-knit family. But as Francesca adjusts to her environment and learns how to deal with her situation, she slowly comes to her own and her true self shines forth. She realizes that her friends from her old school held her back and that it’s okay to be a show off, to be crazy wonderful, unpredictable and fun, which of course, greatly confuses logical Will Trombal. Oh Will Trombal with the intense gaze, always trying to follow a plan. I love how frustrated he is that he can’t control what he’s feeling and he can’t always control where his life goes. Add to that the eclectic mix of Sebastian friends, all of whom have unique personalities, that Francesca collects along the way. This is a heartwarming story of finding (and saving) yourself. That is not to say that it doesn’t have its fair amount of humor. There’s enough witty banter in the novel to make it lighthearted.
And because I’m Filipino, I have to mention the Filipino reference in the book, we tend to notice these kinds of things. It was said in the book that Eva Rodriguez’ parents came from the Philippines and she’s described as having “the usual Spanish-and-Filipino mix of caramelized skin and almond-shaped eyes.” Sounds alluring and beautiful, I wish I looked like that. Another thing I envy about her is that she can hip hop! I’m a frustrated dancer with no skills whatsoever. Okay, enough with the Eva envy. Just wanted to get that out of my system.
To those who’ve read and enjoyed Jellicoe Road, I highly recommend this one as well. It’s different but just as lovely. I have a feeling that Melina Marchetta’s other books will be good also and I can’t wait to read them.