Skip to main content

Saving Francesca

I went up to bed last night around 10:30 with the intention of reading the first 2-3 chapters of Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta.  At 1:00 I closed the book.  I just couldn't stop.  I don't read much contemporary fiction, it has never been a genre that has interested me.  This was my first foray into YA contemporary fiction.  I may have to pay closer attention to this genre in the future.

Synopsis (from author's website):
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.
"There are thirty of us girls at Sebastian's and I want so much not to do the teenage angst thing, but I have to tell you that I hate the life that, according to my mother, I"m not actually having."

Francesca does indeed hate her life and that's mostly because she is wallowing in her anger and resentment of her situation.  What I like about how the beginning of this story is written is that Francesca does not sound like an angsty teenager, making you want to roll your eyes and tell her to grow up.  She simply sounds human.  This is not a  coming of age story but a story about a person who goes from wallowing to being the proactive controller of her own life.  Francesca is in high school which makes this a YA novel but the story is one any age reader can identify with.  Francesca is not always likeable.  Her character has flaws making her relatable to the reader.

Francesca's thoughts on her school in the beginning:
"Girls just don't belong at St. Sebastian's.  We belong in schools that were built especially for us, or in co-ed schools.  St. Sebastian's pretends it's co-ed by giving us our own toilet.  The rest of the place is all male and I know what you're thinking if you're a girl.  What a dream come true, right?  Seven hundred and fifty boys and thirty girls?  But the reality is that it's either like living in a fishbowl or like you don't exist."
Francesca's thoughts on her school in the end:
"I love this school.  I love how uncomplicated it is and the fact that we come from almost two hundred suburbs, so we have to work hard at finding something to hold us together.  There's not a common culture or social group.  There's a whole lot of individuality, where it doesn't matter that we're not all going to be heart surgeons and it doesn't matter whether you sing in a choir, or play a piano accordion, or lose dismally at rugby league, or are victorious in basketball."
This change in perception does not occur simply because Francesca changes but because she and her new friends and their changing dynamic change the school too.  Every society is made of individuals and each individual impacts the society.  Marchetta demonstrated this truth brilliantly simply by telling one individual's story.

The plot of the novel is grounded in reality.  There is no reliance on overly dramatic or near tragic events.  The events occuring in Francesca's life, the troubles of her family are ones that millions of people experience everyday.  I loved all of the supporting characters  of the novel as well.  Francesca's friends are just as real and human as she is and there is no reliance on overused stereotypes in depicting them.  The ending left me with a sense of completion but it wasn't perfectly clean and tidy because there never is a perfectly clean and tidy ending in life.  Life is messy and an ongoing series of events.  The end balanced that reality with a nice sense of closure at the same time.

Melina Marchetta is now on my must read list.  I'm looking forward to reading her other novels.


Popular posts from this blog

Shorter Musings MG Fantasy

Here are some shorter musings on recent MG fantasy reads. Anya and the Dragon   by Sofiya Pasternack This book is fun. It is a book full of adventure, an obvious bad guy, some more complicated morally gray area characters, and a strong, brave heroine. It is also a book about friendships, community, and fighting for what is right. All things that usually work for me really well. While I enjoyed this, I did feel it was a little overlong and there were certain plot points at the end I didn't love. However, there were things I thought were done really well, such as Anya's Jewish faith and the idea that power needs to be challenged. In the end it was a middle of the road read for me, but it is one I will certainly be recommending to dragon and fantasy adventure lovers I know! R is for Rebel   by J. Anderson Coats This is tough because I usually really like Coats's books. I had such a hard time with this one though on so many levels. It's difficult to get into because t

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by  The Broke and the Bookish  and now hosted at  That Artsy Reader Girl . This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List From Most Recent to Least: What books have recently caught your eye?

Future Favorite Friday: June 2018

I take the 2nd Friday of every month to highlight some upcoming releases I am looking forward to that I hope are Future Favorites. Feel free to do your own post, just please link back to my blog and tell me about your post in the comments. Two Naomis  was one of my favorite reads of 2016 so I was understandably excited it's getting a sequel.  In this sequel to  Two Naomis , now that Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi E.’s dad are married, the girls have learned to do a lot of things together, like All-Family Sunday dinners, sixth-grade homework, navigating the subway system by themselves, and visiting their favorite bakeries. Until sixth grade in a new school presents a whole new set of surprises and challenges. Trusting her gut has worked for Naomi E. all her life, and she figures that it will be an asset to her role as a Peer Mediator—until she realizes how much of the job requires the Art of Compromise, which she’s only just starting to get used to at home. Naomi Marie i

The Reece Malcolm List

The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding surprised me. Enough people I trust enjoyed it so I knew I would like it, but wasn't expecting to like it as much as I do. It is a really great book that is fun and has real heart and soul too. Synopsis: Things I know about Reece Malcolm: 1. She graduated from New York University. 2. She lives in or near Los Angeles. 3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week. 4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon. 5. She’s my mother. Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much. L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love. But the

Ash & Bramble

I have established that I love fairy tales and fairy tale retellings. You know what else I love? Books written by Sarah Prineas. Both her MG series are great favorites of mine. When she happened to mention on Twitter long ago that she was working on a YA, I followed closely eager to read whatever the result was. Ash & Bramble  is a fabulous work of genius. (I consider Sarah a friend as well as an author I love, and she sent me the ARC I'm reviewing here.) Pin lives in the Godmother's fortress sewing clothes with the other seamstresses tasked with producing the beautiful one of a kind ballgowns the Godmother uses for her mysterious purposes. Pin has no memories of her life prior to the day she begins her work as a slave to the Godmother's will. Everything that came before is a blank nothing. While she has no memories, she is still a person with a will and a fierce defiance to live her own life. She gets a chance to plan an escape when she is used as a foot model for