Monday, October 07, 2013

Review: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Title: Saving Francesca
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: March 31st 2003
Pages: 243
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought
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Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastians, a boys' school that's pretends it's coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an 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 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 rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Saving Francesca is another great novel from Melina Marchetta! That's really all there is to say - Melina Marchetta's books are perfection, and Saving Francesca is no exception. I can't explain what makes them so great - there's no set thing, it's just the honesty and beauty of her stories. Saving Francesca isn't about any one topic - I don't think I could give a summary of this novel because it's just a simple, honest and realistic story, and it totally works.

Melina Marchetta's characters are always great. I wouldn't be able to explain Francesca's character with a couple of adjectives because she's too complex and real for something like that. I loved the secondary characters, too, especially Francesca's group of friends: unlike most fictional groups of friends that sort of blend together and all represent the same character type, the group of friends in Saving Francesca are individuals with individual personalities that complement each other perfectly. The family storyline is great, too; it works in a very subtle, drama-free way, with real things happening to real people. I love the part the romance plays in the story; it's always there, but never takes the main focus. There's no unnatural drama, just the realistic progression of a relationship, and it's sweet without trying too hard.

It's impressive how well Melina Marchetta balances darker issues with lighter moments. Saving Francesca is so full of emotions of all kinds: there were times I wanted to cry and times I wanted to laugh. The story isn't the saddest or funniest I've read, but Melina Marchetta's writing makes every moment shine and brings out the raw, honest, beautiful emotion of it all.

I don't even know what else to say. There's no one thing that makes this novel amazing; it's simply a beautiful coming-of-age story, portraying the process of finding yourself in an honest, raw, and engaging way. Melina Marchetta really is one of the queens of YA.


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