Saturday, October 13, 2012

[BOOK REVIEW] Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Title:  Saving Francesca

Author:  Melina Marchetta

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Year Published: 2003

Number of Pages: 243 pages

Date Read: 10/13/2012

Series: Saving Francesca #1

Publisher:  Knopf Books for Young Readers

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 16+ (Strong Language and Themes of Depression)

“If you are one of the few girls attending an all male school, then it is a dream come true, right?  Well…”

After reading so many great reviews on Melina Marchetta’s classic novel, “Saving Francesca,” I just had to give this book a shot and man, was I blown away by how awesome this book really is!  “Saving Francesca” is author Melina Marchetta’s second book and the first book I had read from author Melina Marchetta and after reading this book, I definitely am looking forward to reading more of Melina Marchetta’s works!

Francesca Spinelli was your average teenage girl who actually attends an unusual school called St. Sebastian’s where the student body is predominately male, but as much as that sounds like a dream come true for any female, to Francesca it is anything but a dream come true.  Francesca has to deal with school bullies and being in a totally different environment that she was so used to at her old school St. Stella’s Academy that was predominately an all female school.  Not only that, but Francesca’s mother, Mia Spinelli had suddenly succumbed to depression and Francesca is left wondering who she really is and how she will survive her life without her mother to guide her.

Wow! I was just so blown away by the writing and the characters of this unique little novel that I wish I had discovered years ago!  Melina Marchetta has done a brilliant job at writing this story as it HILARIOUS, EMOTIONAL and INTERESTING all at the same time!  I loved the character of Francesca Spinelli herself as she is shown to be extremely feisty, caring and independent at the same time and I loved the relationship that she shares with her mother Mia.  There were many moments in this book where I actually felt sympathy for Francesca because of her mother going through depression and even though there were moments where she seems to lash out at other people who were trying to comfort her, I can actually understand what she is going through as she does not quite understand about why her mother is so depressed and why she refuses to get out of bed.  This is a topic that can scare children, especially if they do not understand about why their parents are depressed and Melina Marchetta had done an awesome job at exploring this topic without ever going too overboard with Francesca’s feelings on this matter. I also loved the fact that Melina Marchetta made this story be told from Francesca’s point of view as we truly get inside her head about how she feels about attending a school where the student body is predominantly male and how she felt about her mother’s sudden depression and the toll it took on her emotions.  Probably the best part about this book was Francesca’s relationship with her friends Siobhan Sullivan, Tara Finke, Justine Kalinsky, Thomas Mackee and Jimmy Hailler as they are all misfits (Tara Finke is an ultra-feminist, Justine Kalinsky is the school nerd and Thomas Mackee is the burping champion) and I loved the way that Francesca just connected with each of them.  Francesca’s relationship with her friends sort of reminds me of the friendship that Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer share in “Seinfeld” (“Seinfeld,” yeah I know) as they do argue with each other, but they remain close friends with each other through good and bad times (not to mention the random dialogues such as school parties and politics that usually pop up between these six friends).

The only problem that some readers might have with this book is that the language is pretty strong for a young adult book (although it has happened many times before). There are various uses of strong language used in this book such as the “s” word and dropping the “f” bomb and it might be best to skim over these words if it is uncomfortable reading these words.  Also, this book deals with a parent having depression, so if anyone has ever gone through this experience before, then it might be a bit uncomfortable to read through.

Overall, “Saving Francesca” is a truly brilliant novel about how a teenage girl has to deal with the stresses in her life while trying to find out who she truly is.  This is definitely one novel that anyone who is a fan of Melina Marchetta’s works will easily enjoy for many years!  Now, I am off to find some more novels by Melina Marchetta!

* 2004 Children's Book Council of Australia Award for Book of the Year for Older Readers
* 2004 Canberra's Own Outstanding List (COOL) Award Nominee for Older Readers
* 2004 Kids Own Australian Literature Awards (KOALA) Nominee for Older Readers
* 2004 Young Australians' Best Book Award (YABBA) Nominee for Older Readers
* 2004 West Australian Young Readers' Book Award (WAYRBA) for Older Readers
* 2004 Parents' Choice Gold Award
* 2004 S.A. Festival National Children's Book Award Nominee for Young Adult
* 2004 W.A. Young Readers Book Award (WAYRA) for Older Readers

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