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Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Publisher : e-penguin
Format: Kindle e-book
Rating: 5/5

Francesca Spinelli's life changes course when she has to move from her all-girls school to St. Sebastian's, an all-boys school that has just opened its doors to a handful of girls. The majority of her best friends have all gone off to another school together leaving Francesca to start again with a group of 'misfits'. However, things get worse when Francesca's mum doesn't get out of bed one morning. In fact, she doesn't get out of bed for most of Frankie's first year at her new school - the school she was so desperate for Frankie to attend. Over the course of this year, Frankie experiences truths about love, loss and friendship like never before. 

I LOVED THIS BOOK! I've been trying to get hold of a copy for quite a while now because I wanted to read it before The Piper's Son so since about 2011 - actually I just checked Goodreads and I read The Piper's Son at exactly the same time of year - spooky. Maybe I get Australian cravings in April? I have been watching a lot of Home and Away recently. Anyway, I put it to the back of my mind a little bit. However, the other day on this post on YA Highwy, Leila listed it as one of their re-reads, which prompted me to check Amazon again and low and behold it's now on Kindle. Hurrah! 

I think I was always going to love this book because like Frankie I moved school in year twelve (which I believe is the equivalent of Australian year eleven). Also, like Frankie, my new school was an all-boys school that accepted a handful of girls. So much of what Melina Marchetta writes about the general school day seemed scarily familiar. Unlike Frankie, my bestest friends moved to this school with me too, however we also managed to make friends with a group similar to the gang in the book. This quote sums everything up perfectly:

"I love this school. I love how uncomplicated it is and the fact that we come from almost two hundred suburbs so we have to work hard at finding something to hold us together. There's not a common culture or social group. There's a whole lot of individuality where it doesn't matter that we're not all going to be heart surgeons and it doesn't matter whether you sing in a choir, or play a piano accordion, or lose dismally at Rugby League or are victorious in basketball. I remember a poem we're studying. I think it's Bruce Dawe. About constants in a world of variables. That's what this place is, I guess."

Melina Marchetta knows how to weave a powerful story. As in life, nothing is ever simple or easily fixed in her characters' lives. A myriad of emotions are intertwined in every scene meaning there's no 'goodies' and 'baddies', no one way to feel about the situation. Her stories just feel so real with a dusting of something extra that makes them sparkle. Frankie's life is falling to pieces because of her mother's depression but she has to keep moving forward, for the sake of her little brother, for the sake of her father. She puts so much effort into just getting through the day that she doesn't have time to pretend to be anything she's not anymore and because of this little things occur that might not have beforehand. Then those little things grow and turn into huge things like suddenly finding she has a group of more than friends - people who would go above and beyond for her. Or suddenly realising she's fallen in love. Or understanding that her dad is who he is and she wouldn't change him for the world. This is life. 

The threads of truth that run through Saving Francesca takes it to the next level - suddenly it's not just another teen book. I'm not a crier but the combination of this, the youthful vibrance of the characters, plus my own nostalgia (and the fact that I still can't stop thinking of Beasts of the Southern Wild) meant I shed a few tears at the end. Frankie is such a bright character and her voice will stay with me for a long time. In my head, I have a small collection of books I want to pass onto my cousin when  she's old enough and Saving Francesca has now joined the list. 


  1. I'm a Melina Marchetta newbie, having just finished JELLICOE ROAD a week or so ago. I loved it, so I'm not sure what took me so long to get to it. All of her books have been on my radar for a bit, so I think it's high time I got to more of them. Thanks for the great review and recommendation! :-)

    1. Her books are difficult to come by - at least where I live anyway. I think my favourite would have to be The Piper's Son. I hope you enjoy the others!


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