Marchetta Madness: Guest Post by Nomes of Inkcrush

I love how Aussie book blogger Nomes of Inkcrush is so passionate about novels from down under. She’s my go-to girl when it comes to Aussie YA recommendations and I’ve read so many wonderful books because of Nomes. I wanted her to take part in Marchetta Madness to give us an idea of what’s it like to be way ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to being a Marchetta fan. Please welcome Nomes, as she talks about the novel that started it all, Looking for Alibrandi.


There is so much I could write about regarding Melina Marchetta, her novels, the characters and I. Yet what I most want share with you about is the very first Marchetta book that stole my (young) heart.

Looking for Alibrandi
I read Looking for Alibrandi when I was 13 years old. I snatched it off the display shelf at my local library, never having heard of Melina Marchetta, always on the look out for something new to read. I can still conjure up my first impressions of the book:

Laughing out loud in the first chapter.
Wishing I was as gutsy as Josie. Fiery and bold and impetuous.
Imagining my future self on the back of some (cute) boys motorbike (those teen years lingering ahead of me, full of promise)
Kissing, and some sexytimes. I was riveted. Thank you, Ms Marchetta.
John Barton. My God. Tears.
The debate team. Some bonding over that, as I was a debater.
She broke that girls nose! Oh, and her dad to the rescue (I liked him so, from that very point).
The letter exchange. My friends and I were always doing that kind of stuff.
The Catholic girls school seemed so much cooler than my regular coed state high school.
Not only did I have crush on two boys, but I also crushed on her father.
Her grandmother, Katia ~ my gosh, tragic and sinful and beautiful mysterious past…

Check out this kissing quote: ‘Fifteen minutes later I was an expert. That’s all you need. I think I was even getting the upper hand which is very simple with a guy. Anything seems to turn them on.’ p154. This quote brought some comfort (LOL) and a few grins.

Fast forward a year and half from my first read
My teacher, handing out our text to study in class: Looking For Alibrandi.
I blurt out: Oh! I’ve already read this. (Had read it twice, in fact. Living in a country town you tend to re-borrow whatever the library stocks).
Guy at back (name redacted for privacy, but I remember you…;)): Don’t you have a life?
My teacher: (did not defend me)

I would like to say that reading it along with my class I came to appreciate all the hidden layers, depth, the themes of cultural heritage, social classes/barriers, relationships, family and self-identity. But I discovered pulling a part one of your favourite books can be a tedious task, mostly involving me fluffing my way through essays, throwing big words around and often debating points just for the sake of argument (to extend the period and get out of written work). I know I did not share how much I loved the book, preferring to keep it personal, than offer up my deepest feelings up for debate and discussion.

It wasn’t even until the last few years, on a reread that I was able to fully appreciate what a masterpiece Alibrandi is. I won’t get all classroom essay on you now, but I want to say two things:

1. First chapter love. One of my all-time fave first chapters. Josie’s voice is funny, irreverent, cool and likeable. You will grin and have that gosh-I-am-going-to-love-this-book feeling from the first few pages.

2. Josephine Alibrandi will go down in the history of Aussie YA books as one of the most likeable, feisty, authentic and memorable female protagonists. For me, she is right up there next to Ellie Linton (Tomorrow, When the War Began) as one of my most nostalgic and beloved YA personalities.

Looking for Alibrandi: The Movie

First of all: there is a movie. Have you seen it yet?

The Looking for Alibrandi movie was one of those things I heard murmurs about without ever knowing if it was really happening (living in those pre-internet days where nothing is easily confirmed and rumours multiplied then faded altogether). I was at university at the time when my flatmate and I first saw a trailer for the film. We clung to each other and squealed, then grew nervous. What if they don’t get it right? Then we heard Melina Marchetta had something to do with the script (that something being she wrote it) plus Pia Miranda was gorgeous and Anthony LaPaglia a fave. We let our anticipation swell.

I watched Alibrandi on it’s opening weekend at the cinema, accompanied by chicken twisties, coke and my flatmate (left my boyfriend – now my husband – at home. We discriminated against him coming as he hadn’t read the book. Oh, we were cruel. Superior, but also feeling precious about watching it). It was gorgeous on the big screen. Seeing it all come to life in such an Australian way ~ the scenes at the Opera house, Sydney Uni (my rival uni at the time), Bondi Beach and George Street.

My flatmate loved it. I loved it. Boyfriend even got into the spirit of it when we hired it out on video later on… (and as my now husband, has sat through it more than once ;))

It was exhilarating and fun and touching and Australian and had a killer soundtrack.

I love that a favourite book can be transformed into another medium. Same story, but different. It brought to life the characters, differently to how it played out in my head, but it still evoked all those same feelings in me that I first had when I read the book as a teen.

Side note before moving on: I so completely recommend this Australian film to anyone who loves Melina Marchetta, Aussie films or Aussie YA. CHECK OUT THIS ROCKING TRAILER. (Did I mention MM wrote the script?)

Most of all
I am proud of Alibrandi and the role it played in my life. While Melina Marchetta has recently risen in fame internationally, she truly made her mark in Australia in the 90’s. When Young Adult fiction was the smallest section in the library, dominated by Sweet Valley High (okay, so I read them, who didn’t?), imported YA and a sprinkling of (uninspiring) classics, Looking For Alibrandi brought an authentic Australian voice that resonated deep within me. For a young Aussie teen, there is nothing like that feeling of sinking into an Australian story, full of Aussies, local references and a kick-arse nose-breaking heroine.

I think a lot of people struggle to choose their favourite Melina Marchetta (Perhaps even Melina herself struggles?). Alibrandi has it’s own special place in my heart. It is my most nostalgia-inducing Marchetta book. It is perhaps Marchetta’s most well known title in Australia (?) yet possibly her least talked about title internationally (?). I would LOVE to hear if you guys have read it, what did you think? Do you have plans to read it?

Thanks so much for having me here, Chachic, and I hope me sharing my Alibrandi memories has inspired some of your readers to check out Melina Marchetta’s (outstanding) debut.

Did you know? Looking for Alibrandi is the most stolen book from Australian libraries. I personally am on my third (unstolen ;)) copy. (My first one fell apart. My second never returned to me 😦 )

my current copy of Looking for Alibrandi, surrounded by some other Aussie faves. (I wanted to take a pic of all my MM books, but a couple are out with friends atm)


Thanks, Nomes! I’ve always wondered what it’s like to read Looking for Alibrandi for class, you just gave all of us a clearer picture. I really want to watch that movie. Also, you’ve made me jealous of your Aussie editions! I want them all.

40 thoughts on “Marchetta Madness: Guest Post by Nomes of Inkcrush

  1. LOVE this post, Nomes. What a great story! I’m so glad that Alibrandi affected you so much growing up.

    So jealous that you got to read Double M at high school. How is that fair?! 😦

    I still need to watch that film 🙂

    • Jo, don’t worry, I’m jealous that they get to read MM’s books in Aussie high schools. Why didn’t we ever read good contemporary novels back when I was in school? So glad Nomes told us about her personal experience with Alibrandi.

    • yes, watch the film 🙂 you’ll get a kick out of it 🙂

      and it was cool reading MM at school ~ so many of my generation have read it thanks to the dept of ed 😉

  2. It’s great to see how much of an impact Looking for Alibrandi had on you! And I agree I think that it probably is the least talked about book, I still have to read it yet! Awesome post Nomes! 🙂

    • It really is the least talked about MM book. I was thrilled when Nomes said that she’ll write about Alibrandi because I was worried it would be the only book that won’t be highlighted this week. So yay Nomes. 🙂

    • Jasprit, I would LOVE to hear what you think of it 🙂 And it was awesome reading Alibrandi as a teen ~ felt so genuinely Australian. I have just realised it is 19 years since I first read it. makes me feel old, haha

  3. This is an amamzing post, Nomes.

    I love Alibrandi, but I think you’re right. Jellicoe is the one almost everyone talks about internationally, but I loved reading Alibrandi back when I was 19 or 20. I am a child of the nineties so I remembered a lot of the things Josie talked about. And those tests in the magazines? I cracked up when she was reading that one in the first chapter.

    And guess what? I’ve seen the movie!
    I’m actually reviewing it in my blog today – just need to finish my data capture of the day – and I loved it. Even if sometimes I didn’t understand because my ears weren’t as trained in Aussie speak as they are now.

    And Nonna? I loved Nonna! and I’ll admit to a crush on Michael Andretti too. There, I said it. 😛

    • haha, who doesnt crush on andretti? haha

      i have to come and see your blog post. (i’ll be over in a sec ;))

      and, as always, you are so kind to me ~ always swelling my head with compliments, haha.

  4. Looking for Alibrandi is my favorite! (I feel like a parrot.) I have the movie, but I haven’t seen it. To be honest, I’m a little scared of it. All the characters are so alive in my head and so important to me, I just don’t want to be disappointed in any way.

    And I definitely need to read Tomorrow, When the War Began. You make it sound so good, Nomes.

    And who needs life when you have books like Alibrandi?! 🙂
    Great post, ladies?

    • you are a parrot, maja. i have seen you proclaiming that all over the interwebs, LOL 😀

      just relax with the movie. it is different to the book, sure, but lots of fun. More so now that you can have a good chuckle over the fashion, haha


      xx Nomes

      • I certainly don’t mind hearing Maja say that Alibrandi is her favorite. I feel like I keep saying Jellicoe and Piper are mine so I’m a parrot as well. 😛 Nomes, I added Tomorrow, When the War Began to my wishlist because of this post.

  5. More importantly–I want to know what you said to the boy who asked if you had a life because you read books? I hope, at the very least, you spent some time doodling pictures of him enduring horrible trials. I hope you give the audiobook a try your next time through, as I’m pretty sure you’d love it. I loved the music and most of the actors in the movie, too:) It’s the first time I ever knew that Anthony LaPaglia is Australian! I’ve never seen him in anything where he has an Aussie accent. You can tell how much you love this book, Nomes. You should never have doubted your writing skills. I knew it would be perfect:) ❤

    • Haha about the boy. I just pulled a face 😉 I have been known to doodle though 😉

      I will check out the audio book, I love your audio recs ~ you’ve been spot on so far. I must confess, I rather like the idea of being a narrator. i once read ‘Les Miserables’ out loud to a grade nine class, the entire thing. Took half a term to chug through it. My French was WOEFUL (class correcting me) but it was a good way to pass the time, haha.

      (am sidetracked now)

      I am glad you loved the music, a lot of it are Australian bands 🙂

  6. He looks so hot in the trailer!! Yayyy. I have been thinking about watching it for the longest time. Unfortunately, I thought it was her weakest novel. But when I read your post I could so see what you loved about it. I wish I had read it when I was 13/14/. It would have blow me completely away at the time and made me see what kinda potential was out there. when I was 14 I read books that were not even near this books level. And that’s why even if I didn’t love it years down the line, it would have remained a personal fav.

    Such a lovely post. I love the thought of you and your mate all excited and giggling getting ready to watch it. 🙂

    • LOL @ your first initial comment, Aly!

      And I so agree about books being more meaningful when you have a chance to read it at the perfect time in your life.

      I definitely had childhood faves that are best left in my memory and not actually revisited, haha. Well, I have recently read some Blyton to my kids and it can be a painful 20 mins each night, but I did love them so as a kid.

      You choujld watch the movie, I think you’d like it

      x Nomes

  7. I love this post, Nomes! Looking for Alibrandi was my first Marchetta book, like you and so many Aussie teens in our generation, we had to read it in high school and I loved it. I also enjoyed the movie and you’ve made me feel very nostalgic and I need to watch it again now!

    • i got all nostalgic writing the post as well 🙂 We must be from a simlar era, LOL. Good times, reading Alibrandi in school 🙂

      Hope you can watch the movie again, my library has a copy ~ so maybe yours does too?

  8. Looking for Alibrandi was the first Marchetta novel I read, too! And the first time I saw the movie? Year 8 health class, haha. Fun times! It is most definitely (in my opinion) her most well-known work domestically, and I think that’s most likely due to its prominence as an educational resource/set English text. Jellicoe Road is my favourite of her works that I’ve read, though. Awesome post!

    • Oh, year 8 health! LOL. That seems so random. I guess you could tie in some themes with the Health syllabus 🙂 I loved watching movies in school, good times.

      I LOVE jellicoe Road, too. C0ompletely blew me away…

      • Yeah, the whole sexual identity themes were in there, as well as youth mental health and development of identity- contrasting peer pressure with cultural heritage, sort of thing 🙂 Jellicoe was just an incredible experience to read, honestly. Also, love the reference to Tomorrow, When The War Began- another amazing Australian book I was lucky enough to have as a set text in high school English! 🙂

  9. Now I need to try “chicken twisties.” What a bummer that LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI is not available to be “hired out” on DVD from Netflix in the U.S. (Did I use that phrase correctly? “Hired out?”)

  10. I must confess I haven’t read Alibrandi yet.:( I was worried I wouldn’t like it as much as MM’s other books, but this has convinced me to give it a go. Thanks for this post Nomes.:)

    Also, I need to get my hands on that movie.:)

    • Celina, I hope you get to read Alibrandi soon! Lucky you, you can still look forward to reading a Marchetta. 😛

      Me too, wish the movie was available here in the Philippines, right? LOL maybe we can get a copy if one of us manages to go to Australia.

  11. Thanks Nomes. I had the surreal experience when it was on the NSW Senior syllabus because I was forced to teach it two years in a row and had to refer to myself as “the writer”.

    And also, I’ve only been star struck one or two times, but the first time I met Anthony La Paglia it was at a pre production dinner, and half way through it he was asked to sit next to me to ask questions about Michael Andretti and my face was burning the whole time.

    • Melina, thank you so much for replying to these Marchetta Madness guest posts. 🙂 It must have been really weird to refer to yourself as “the writer.” I wonder if it was easier to teach the book though because you know it so well?

      LOL I’ve never gotten the chance to sit next to a celebrity so I have no idea how I’ll react if that ever happens. I’m pretty sure I’ll be star struck if I get to meet favorite authors (like you) in person.

  12. I haven’t read this one – it is making its way to me right now via the mail though 🙂 Hopefully it will arrive today.

    Im also so excited to hear the film is great! Im desperate to see it but the only way to get hold of it here is to buy it and since this was a MM book, I was too scared to try it incase it was awful lol! I think I might go order it right now…

    • Oops Amy, I seemed to have missed your comment! I hope your copy of this book has already arrived and that you’ve enjoyed reading it. I haven’t found a way of ordering the movie either hmm maybe I should include it in my Fishpond order when I’m finally ready to give that online store a try.

  13. Pingback: Marchetta Madness: Random Facts | Chachic's Book Nook

  14. Oh, wish I had read something as amazing as MM in school. We only read the most boring and unspiring classics (I’m talking The Illiad and such) it sucked.

    I love Alibrandi. She’s one of the most amazing characters I’ve ever read and I just loved her more than any character in the book (which I guess is what’s supposed to happen, but you know it doesn’t always work that way).

    Loved your story, wish mine wered as amazing as yours!

    • Same here, wish I read something similar to MM’s books in high school! I don’t understand why we didn’t read contemporary YA novels back then. I have no idea what the curriculum is like right now but I hope it’s gotten better. I did enjoy reading The Iliad though because we also put up a play for it as a class project. 🙂

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