On Australia Day there was a blog hop organised by Shellyrae from Book’d Out. It was such fun and I happened to win Saving Francesca from the lovely Amy at Lost in a Good Book. She even sent me a bookmark. Thanks Amy 🙂
Most Aussie teenagers in the 90s read Looking for Alibrandi, but I haven’t read it (my wonderful English teacher picked more eclectic and challenging reading material, while still within the curriculum). I am ashamed to admit that Saving Francesca is the first book by Melina Marchetta I’ve actually read.
So, what is it about?
Francesca’s mother hasn’t gotten out of bed and her family begins to unravel. At the same time, Francesca has started year eleven with thirty other girls at St Sebastian’s, formerly an all boys school. Her friends are going to Pius, so she forms a group with three other girls she rarely used to associate with: her best friend from primary school Sobhian, social justice warrior and feminist Tara, and quiet but musically gifted Justine. The four girls, along with the others in their year, face obstacles from the boys, but slowly they begin to make acquaintances with them, friendships, and even find romance. But Mia has had a breakdown, she’s depressed, but Francesca and her younger brother Luca are kept in the dark by their father, Robert, and the rest of their family about what it really means and why it’s happening. Every day Mia doesn’t get out of bed, Francesca’s family unravels a little more. It reaches breaking point, just as Francesca is finding out who she really is.
‘It’s a bit of a breakdown. She just needs time out, you know?’
I shake my head. A bit down. A bit of a breakdown. A bit of bullshit. There are no ‘bits’ to this. There are large chunks. Of information that everyone is keeping from Luca and me.
This was such a great story. I love the setting, having lived in some of the areas mentioned in the book, and the Aussie catholic school experience is well represented. The Aussie slang and the relationships between each of the characters felt authentic. Instead of being shown what depression is like through the eyes of the person suffering it, we are shown through the eyes of her daughter. It is an interesting take on it, having witnessed other people suffering from this horrible affliction and also suffering something similar to what Francesca felt herself at around the same age, I can empathise with most of the characters. The last couple of years of high school are horrid, but great memories are also made and Melina Marchetta shows this well. It has moments that are both uplifting as well as sad, but most importantly it is hopeful.
I really enjoyed this YA book and will definitely read more of Melina Marchetta’s work.