by Melina Marchetta
Published Sept. 2004
MOST OF MY friends now go to Pius Senior College, but my mother wouldn’t allow it because she says the girls there leave with limited options and she didn’t bring me up to have limitations placed upon me. If you know my mother, you’ll sense there’s an irony there, based on the fact that she is the Queen of the Limitation Placers in my life.
Francesca battles her mother, Mia, constantly over what’s best for her. All Francesca wants is her old friends and her old school, but instead Mia sends her to St. Sebastian’s, an all-boys’ school that has just opened its doors to girls. Now Francesca’s surrounded by hundreds of boys, with only a few other girls for company. All of them weirdos, or worse.
Then one day, Mia is too depressed to get out of bed. One day turns into months, and as her family begins to fall apart, Francesca realizes that without her mother’s high spirits, she hardly knows who she is. But she doesn’t yet realize that she’s more like Mia than she thinks. With a little unlikely help from St. Sebastian’s, she just might be able to save her family, her friends, and – especially- herself.
Photo and summary from Goodreads.com
Holy smokes, this book pretty much made me laugh and cry the whole way through. Normally that would be great, but I was in a coffee shop reading, so it was kind of embarrassing. While Saving Francesca didn’t have the same effect on me as The Jellicoe Road did, it was still a fantastic read that drew me in quickly and kept me there.
1. I love Francesca’s relationship with her mom. As a free thinker, an academic, and passionate woman in general, Francesca’s mom seems to overspill into Francesca’s life, so much so that it feels like Francesca’s mom s declaring who Francesca is, and not Francesca herself. Wow. I said Francesca a lot in that sentence! Anyway, this book was essentially about Francesca claiming herself and figuring out who she is and acting that way. She’s finding people who love her for who she actually is and she’s actually starting to like herself. “Finding yourself” is one of my favorite themes in young adult literature, and although you never truly reach a point where you “find yourself,” I do love to see authors causing their main characters to challenge themselves and learn to be more confident in who they are. Melina did a fantastic job with Francesca’s developement.
2. Francesca’s friends were fantastic. I love their goofiness. I love how much Francesca didn’t want to get too close to anyone, but ended up doing so regardless. I also love how slowly their friendships were formed and while they don’t even realize it, you realize how much they’re coming to love each other.
3. One of the reasons why I found myself crying so much was because how realistic all the problems Francesca had to deal with were. Her emotions immediately became mine, and I was swept up by the unfairness of her mother’s “sickness”, the hurt between her and her father, feeling like everything is your fault, feeling forgotten, feeling like you don’t fit in anywhere, and on and on.
4. Surprisingly though, I wouldn’t call this book angsty at all. While I cried a lot (I cry easily with books, mind you) watching Francesca find her place and finally start to speak up was just fun. Also, her interesting relationship with Will is quite fun to watch too 😉
Overall Review: I’m pretty sure Melina Marchetta just gets people, which is why this book is such a good read. If you want a contemporary teen book, this one is perfect. Full of family, friendship, and boys, I easily fell in love with Saving Francesca.
Random tidbit:The characters make an appearance in Melina Marchetta’s newer book The Piper’s Son, which is narrated by Thomas/Tom!