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Marchetta, Melina. Saving Francesca.

MARCHETTA, Melina. Saving Francesca. Random House, Knopf. 243p. c2003.0-375-82983-0. 0-375-82983-0. $8.95. JS *

To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, September 2004: The author, a teacher in Sydney, Australia who wrote the successful YA novel Looking for Alibrandi, continues with the same milieu, a Catholic school and an Italian family. Francesca's mother and father share working class Italian roots, but her mother persisted in graduate school and has a job teaching at the college level; meanwhile, Francesca's father still works in construction. At the time this novel begins, Francesca's mother has had a "nervous breakdown" and is buried in depression. Francesca and her younger brother (this is a lovely sibling relationship) attend the same school, which was an all-boys school until recently. In essence, this is a school story, telling of Francesca finding a new group of friends, finding a boyfriend, and beginning to find herself, despite the terrible angst of worrying constantly about her mother's health.

What makes the novel so much fun and so poignant at the same time is the terrific dialog--witty, cutting, intelligent, outrageous. There is a lot of believable confusion: Francesca is furious with her mother; she aches for her mother to return to normal. She loves her father; but she blames him for her mother's depression. She can't stand Will; but her body betrays her true feelings: her heart speeds up when she sees him. Francesca is the narrator, but many other characters are also fully developed in Marchetta's adept writing style. There is some swearing here and there, and getting drunk on alcohol or high on marijuana in the background at times, but these young people in the core of the story are lovable, smart people who are trying their best to survive adolescence. Claire Rosser, KLIATT

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

*--The asterisk highlights exceptional books.
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Author:Rosser, Claire
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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