Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian's, a boys' school that pretends it's coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas who specializes in musical burping to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can't seem to stop thinking about.

Then there's Francesca's mother, who always thinks she knows what's best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.

Again, I find myself wondering how to write a review for this. Another amazing read by Melina Marchetta. Is there something in that Australian water over there that makes people incredible writers? Because I swear, every Aussie-written book that I've read has blown me away. (Maybe it just has to do with the fact that I have an Aussie accent in my head when I read them teehee.) This book is written beautifully. I am mad jealous of your writing skills, Marchetta. Now, plot wise, it wasn't AS GOOD as Jellicoe Road for me, but it was a simple story of a girl that left me satisfied.
Francesca was an amazing main character. So real. Sometimes, when I was reading, my breath would catch, because I just relate to Francesca so well. Who doesn't change themselves depending on who their friends are? We all do, at least a little bit. I know that I've missed opportunities in the past because the kids I was friends with at the time wouldn't have thought it was "cool." And there's also been girls who I could've been friends with but didn't bother getting to know well because of my group of friends. (Middle school was a bad time haha.) I hated Francesca's old group of friends. Why do girls feel the need to put people down, especially their so-called friends, to make themselves feel better? Melina does a fantastic job crafting high school friendships and how great or bad they can really be.
Mia, Francesca's mother, is suffering from acute depression. She used to be so outgoing, and now she doesn't leave the house, barely even getting out of bed. Marchetta handles this topic well, I think. And the family reactions were all very realistic. Luca, the little brother, was the scared one, Francesca was the I'm-so-worried-but-I'm-going-to-be-angry one, and the father, Robert, just had a hard time accepting it, convincing himself that things will get better. I felt for the guy, I really did. He loved Mia so much, and you could see as the book when on just how much it was tearing him.
There are so many side characters, now that I think about it. But they all had their place and their part, so it never felt overwhelming while I was reading it. There was Siobhan, Francesca's old best friend from Year 7 who she dumped when she got into the group of (evil) friends. There's Justine, who Francesca never really got to know well at her old school, Stella's, but they become best friends throughout the book. The their's Tara, the female activist protestor. Jimmy, who befriends Francesca and comes over her house to talk fantasy books with her mother, something that actually gets her out of bed. There's Thomas, the perv, but he's still a nice kid. And then there's Will, the boyfriend. You know, I love how Marchetta writes romance. She has a simple way of writing it really, no frills and melodrama. It's awesome.
I love getting a closer look at Australian life. How differently their school system works, the different slang and terminology, everything. So sorry, but being an Aussie author automatically makes you cooler than an American one, that's just how it goes. No, but seriously, this is an amazing read. I'm unable to get over the quotable quotes that show of Marchetta's skills

It's a weird smile, but it reaches his eyes and I bottle it. And I put it in my ammo pack that's kept right next to my soul and Justine's spirit and Siobham's hope and Tara's passions. Because if I'm going to wake up one morning and not be able to get out of bed, I'm going to need everything I've got to fight this disease that could be sleeping inside of me.
Another fantastic real read by the wonderful Melina Marchetta. Read it!


Evie J said...

I want this book!!!

And so true. Aussie authors kick arse! Great review!

Marisa said...

Read it Evie!!! Plot wise, I liked Jellicoe Road better because of the mystery aspect, but this was still an amazing read!

Tegan ♥ said...

My sister's old Scout leader was best friends with Melina in high school. She's all the way up in Sydney, though -.-

Totally agree about the amazing Aussie writers! :P Have you read John Marsden's Tomorrow series yet? I believe it's the best Australian YA of all time.

The companion book (The Piper's Son) isn't as good as Saving Francesca. It follows Tom and keeps track of the others after high school.

Fantastic review!

Marisa said...

@Tegan: THAT'S SO COOL. (The girl scout leader thing. Haha!)

No, I haven't read the Tomorrow series yet. Now I'm going to have to check it out!

Ramisa/Remy said...

Once again, AMAZING review.
Melina Marchetta is one of my all-time favourite authors.
If you don't mind me asking, how is America different to Australia?
I live in Australia, by the way, and I have NO clue how anything works in America! >.<
Remy xx