Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
The Skinny: Sixteen year-old Francesca is one of thirty girls who go to St. Sebastian’s – an all boy’s school who recently opened its doors to girls. All of her friends go to another school now and she’s left alone with the girls she once deemed “misfits” and 750 boys, none of whom seem eager to welcome her. As if this wasn’t enough for her to handle her over-peppy mother becomes depressed – something no one in Francesca’s family is prepared to deal with. As Francesca struggles to deal with her new life and school, she begins to drift away from the girl she always thought she was, slowly embracing the girl her mother knew she could be.
BFF?: God I felt for Francesca. I wanted to be her friend, her big sister, her mentor, her distant cousin… anything to be a part of her life! She’s smart and sassy with a dry humor to make even the most humorless people pee their pants. Okay, maybe that’s taking it a little too far but she really was an amazing character to read and get to know.
Readability: With Francesca as the narrator, this book was kind of a roller coaster of teenage drama mixed with real life dramas that can affect anyone. I loved how dynamic her voice became, how she seemed like a real 16 year old struggling with teenage problems verses how she dealt with her family’s problems. Her voice was real and didn’t for one second seem reaching or an imitation of what we think teens are. The pacing was well done, easy to navigate through without getting stuck on any one part.
Crush Level: 5
I think the only reason Will scored this high is because he seemed like that painfully shy dorky kid who everyone seems to respect and like. Contradiction? You betcha! Will was a tough nut to crack and it took me a while before I started warming up to him. In the end I think I liked him but in 10 years when I’m going through my Facebook invitation to see who all is attending our high school reunion (you know, so I’ll know if it’s actually worth going to) and I see his name… I may remember things about him. I may not. I will remember that super hot drunken kiss though…
I know, this isn’t really a bonus point as much as it is just a talking point. Lemme be real for a moment: As someone who does battle depression, I know how crummy it feels when it hits you and you can’t get out of bed. So I totally felt for Francesca’s mom. I sometimes gravitate to books that deal with this and how the characters cope. I didn’t know going in that this book dealt with depression, so it was a nice surprise. But it made me think about how my disease (or whatever you want to call it) affects others. It made me realize just how far reaching depression is and how it’s destructive to not only the people who have it but to their families as well. I often wonder if when I’m married and have kids will what happened to Francesca’s mom happen to me and, if it does, how will it affect them? This book really opened my eyes and as an adult looking in, showed me how strong young people can be when a parent gets sick.
What girl in their right mind hasn’t dreamed of going to a school with all boys? Um… me. As a teenager I was petrified of boys! So had my mom forced me to go to an all-boys school that only recently let in girls I would have thrown a diva of a fit!
Yeah, that sounds creepy even as I typed it but hear me out: I LOVED the fact that Francesca and her dad had this awkward relationship that culminated with a big father-daughter heartbreaking conversation. Yeah, I cried.
Commencement Speech: Saving Francesca may not be a book I read over and over again. It may not even be a book I recommend past this review. But out of everything I’ve ever read this one really hit home for me and is going to stay in my heart. Not only was it funny and witty, it was deep and meaningful; Francesca’s a girl who we can all relate to. What I loved best about this book isn’t all the things I listed above; it isn’t how beautiful and well-written it is; it isn’t even the fact that it’s by Melina Marchetta. It’s that Francesca saved herself. There was no handsome prince to ride in and save the day. There were no group of besties who made everything better in a girl-power move. There wasn’t even a wise mentor who helped guide the way. I loved that this book was about saving oneself from falling into the darkness that seems to seep into everyone’s life at some point and how it’s possible to rise above everything. This may be the first book I’ve read by Marchetta but I know she’s earned one more fan for life!
Superlatives – Most Likely to Make You Want to Take on the World!
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