Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Title: Looking for Alibrandi
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: October 5th 1992
Pages: 313
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought
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For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it’s just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it’s her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn’t be any stricter—but that doesn’t seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.
Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the nononsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josephine is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family’s past—and the year she sets herself free.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I'm a little late to the world of Melina Marchetta fandom - I didn't read Jellicoe Road till last year. But of course, I fell in love with Jellicoe Road; I loved it so much, I didn't even write a review, because I don't think my words could ever do that book justice. And now that I've realized how amazing Melina Marchetta is, I'm reading all of her other books, starting with Looking for Alibrandi. Which is amazing, of course.

Compared to Jellicoe Road, I found Looking for Alibrandi surprisingly light, for the most part. This novel, unlike Jellicoe Road, doesn't have a set of issues it actively addresses; it just tells a story. This lets Josie's character take center stage; her sense of humor, her slightly infuriating but, for the most part, lovable melodrama, and her insightfulness shine through Melina Marchetta's writing. And her writing, of course, is amazing - it's both heartwrenching and funny, and simply beautiful.

I think my favorite part of the novel was reading about Josie's family. Josie's relationship with her dad is so well-done, and I love how naturally it develops. The drama between Josie and her mother and grandmother is great too, and everything about the family's history is so, so good. It seemed boring at first and I didn't get why we were reading so much about the grandmother's past, but once it's clear how all of it relates to the present, it's obvious that the whole storyline is pure genius. I never should have doubted Melina Marchetta.

Then there's the romance. The description on the back of the book makes this sound like any other love triangle, but that's not the case at all - it's a love triangle without the annoying drama. Yes, it's predictable, but that's not the point; it's about the realistic and natural way Melina Marchetta develops these relationships. Jacob is the perfect imperfect love interest, and Josh... oh, Josh. I loved these characters. And I loved the characters in Josie's group of friends, too - friendship is not the most important theme in Looking for Alibrandi, but I loved reading about their distinct personalities.

I could imagine that a lot of people will dislike the last 30 or so pages of the book. I said Looking for Alibrandi is a lighter read than Jellicoe Road, and it is - until these last few chapters. The things that happen towards the end broke my heart so much, made me want to scream at the author how she could do this to us. But I also kind of loved it - it's not exactly a sad ending, it's just perfectly melancholy, and it conveys so much raw feeling. And I always prefer endings like this one to unrealistically happy ones.

I don't even know what it is about this novel - I just loved it so, so much. It's not about any one storyline, it's just such a beautiful, honest portrayal of life, love, loss, all of it. Melina Marchetta is pure literary genius.


  1. This sounds so so good! She's got a way with words, and her characters are so real:)

    Lovely review:)

  2. Happy Blogoversary, Hannah! I love Melina Marchetta. I've read Saving Francesca and I really liked it. I haven't read On the Jellicoe Road yet because I'm not yet prepared for it. So many books have made my heart ache for the past few months! So maybe I'll start with Looking for Alibrandi first. Thank you for a nice review. <3

  3. I haven't read any of Melina Marchetta. I own Winterlicht but haven't read it either.
    Looking for Alibrandi actually had been translated to Indonesian version (I live in Indonesia) a couple of years ago but the cover wasn't good so I just ignored it. But from your review, this seems good. Kinda think of trying to read it.

  4. thanks for great review, with your review, this books sounds good and I'm add this book on my TBR :D


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