Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Published May 9th 2006 
 Knopf Books for Young Readers 

“People with lost personalities will suffer a great deal more than those with lost virginities.” 

Goodreads Synopsis

A compelling story of romance, family, and friendship with humor and heart, perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Lauren Myracle.

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys' school that pretends it's coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can't seem to stop thinking about.

Then there's Francesca's mother, who always thinks she knows what's best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.

My Review

“Comfort zones are overrated. They make you lazy.” 

Wow. This was amazing.

Never have I encountered such a gut twistingly honest version of teenage life in contemporary fiction.

There are no sexy beasts with six packs, no murderous bitches out for blood, no insta love and no same lame back stories.

No. There is Francesca, a reluctant transfer from an all girls school to the newly turned coed St Sebastian. And there is her feisty, always-ready-for-revolution mom, suddenly battling with acute depression; and her happy-go-lucky father who is not so optimistic anymore, and her little brother who huddles with her as they wait for things to go back to how they should be.

Then there is Francesca's group- just a bunch of grudging teens thrown together because there is nowhere else to go and a couple of teachers who say just the right things to perk up a student. 

And there are emotions

Merlin! So many emotions. Truckloads of them. And everyone of these emotions were so gloriously glorious because they were just so real.

“I miss the Stella girls telling me what I am. That I'm sweet and placid and accommodating and loyal and nonthreatening and good to have around. And Mia. I want her to say, "Frankie, you're silly, you're lazy, you're talented, you're passionate, you're restrained, you're blossoming, you're contrary."

I want to be an adjective again. But I'm a noun. 

A nothing. A nobody. A no one.” 

There are no perfect boys who say perfect things. There are just awkward, horny teenagers who fart and crack dirty jokes at inappropriate moments and make you laugh. There are boys who love sports they can't play to save their lives and boys who have hearts as soft as marshmallows and try to act as tough as nails.  There are boys who think with their penises, boys who think with their hearts, boys who think too much and boys who don't think at all. 

“For a moment I can't help thinking how decent he is - that there's some hope for him beyond the obnoxious image he displays. Maybe deep down he is a sensitive guy, who sees us as real people with real issues. I want to say something nice. Some kind of thanks. I stand there, rehearsing it in my mind.

"Oh my God," he says, "did you see that girl's tits?"
Maybe not today.” 

There are no bitchy girls or good girls or stupid girls or rebels. There are your average selfish teens in search of companionship, girls who roughhouse the boys at basketball and cry during cheesy romantic movies, girls who crush at the cute guy at the bus stop and fangirl about him over late night pillow talks and girls who stick together after swearing at each other in ugly fights, girls who claim that they've had enough with sexism and girls who'd rather have popularity than personality. 

“I think I'm a bit in love with these girls. They make me feel giddy. Like I haven't a care in the world. Like I'm fearless."

Ms Marchetta created such a colourful menagerie of characters and wove such a simple but heartfelt story around them that the book was absolutely unputdownable. The simplest, most childish phrases like killing ourselves laughing and duh brain had me grinning like a goof at the realness of it all.

An endearing feel good read!

Highly recommended : 5/5 stars!


  1. ohhh, you had me at your list of things that WEREN'T in this one that are in most -- all other -- YA books. I like this one already -- thanks for the heads up!

    1. You're welcome! :-) This was just one of those novels which keep you in a happy haze long after they are over.