Saturday, January 5, 2013

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Publication Date: March 31, 2003
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 243
Synopsis: 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.
Review: Although I'm not exactly sure why, I had the preconception that this book was going to be a light and fluffy romance--something very easy to fly through that would give my mushy feelings. This expectation definitely made my reading experience incredibly surprising! This book was so far from light and fluffy.

   I wasn't expecting the dark tone of the novel and was immediately assaulted with it. Francesca wasn't exactly lovable to me. It took me a long time to warm up to her--more than half the novel, actually. She started off cold and distant to everyone, with a "woe is me" attitude, and honestly, I wasn't sure if I was going to like the book. My first impression of Francesca was very disappointing because I had heard so many amazing things about this novel!

   But as the book progressed, I began to like Francesca, and by the end, I really liked her transformation. She opened up, she came to realizations, she made so many fabulous friends, and she actually became herself, rather than just a dull copy of what she once was. I started seeing good things about her: the way she became stronger, her sharp humor, the love with which she treated her brother. And maybe most of all, I loved the way I actually found that I could relate to her. As a teenager, I sometimes think that my opinion is right. I think I know the full story. But then, as time goes on and I learn more, I realize that I was wrong, and my parents that I used to view as condescending were really just correct the whole time. And I think Francesca goes through the exact same thing.

   There wasn't a Sebastian friend of Francesca's that I didn't like in this book. Every single one of them I wanted in my life. From Justine with her kind ways, Tara's passionate views, Siobhan's wit and hope, Thomas's hilarity and realness, Jimmy's carefree attitude... They were all so fantastic! They carried the book so far. At first, none of them seem worth getting to know, but in the end, they were just about the most incredible friends ever.

   And then there's Francesca's family. Her mother's depressed and it's seeping into the whole family. Everyone's so emotional and the atmosphere is so heavy. And yet there's a delicateness, a fragility in the whole household, where a single finger could make the entire family collapse. Everything's held onto by a thinning thread, and the sadness of it all sank my heart.

   There's so many things I want to say about this book, but it's more difficult than I thought it was going to be to form my thoughts into sentences. It's stunningly thought-provoking. I shed tears reading this book. Of course there were some problems I had. It took me quite some pages to actually invest myself into the story. The short number of pages made some scenes probably less impacting than what they should have been. I felt frustrated with the protagonist for more than half of the book. However, even though I didn't fall in love with Saving Francesca, the depth and resonance of the novel have left an impact on me, giving this book a permanent residence in my thoughts.

   4 keys.

16 comments:

  1. YES! I am SO glad you loved this one, Sophia! While Jellicoe Road is easily Marchetta's best work, this one is my favorite and I'm thrilled you enjoyed it so much. Beautiful review! :)

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  2. This is yet another reminder that I need to pick up a Melina Marchetta book! It's going to happen SOON. I've seen such stunning reviews of this one, and I'm so glad that you enjoyed this one as well Sophia. Even though it took you a while to warm up to this novel, it definitely sounds emotional, and I love how the main character grows a ton in the story. It's always great to see that in a story! Also, the secondary characters seem so real as well, and I can't wait to find out about them!

    Fantastic review, Sophia. I will be picking this book up soon! <3

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  3. Very nice review! I just bought Jellicoe Road. This one sounds funny and lighthearted, so I'm glad you revealed its depth. It sounds like the main character's revelations make this worth the read. It's always disappointing when you can't connect with a character or it is hard to get into the story. I like that even though you didn't find this as a favorite, you still picked out the great things about it!
    -Jenna

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  4. OH WOW. It seems I need to add this to my TBR ASAP! I find that its difficult to really enjoy a story if the main character is stand offish and dis-likeable. But I am really happy that the main character was able to change for the better.

    Amazing review! Glad you enjoyed this one Sophie!

    Gabby~

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  5. I think perhaps the title and the cover convey a different feel to the actual story? It is a lot deeper and more serious and I know some people don't like it as much as her other books, but I too loved this one, so I'm glad you did!

    Have you read The Piper's Son? It involves the same characters, a few years on!

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  6. Wow, I would never have guessed from the cover that the story was so emotional. I've heard some really great things about this author, though. Glad to see you enjoyed this one in the end!

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  7. New layout! I hope you didn't think you get this past me.

    "As a teenager, I sometimes think that my opinion is right. I think I know the full story. But then, as time goes on and I learn more, I realize that I was wrong, and my parents that I used to view as condescending were really just correct the whole time. And I think Francesca goes through the exact same thing."

    I'm treading into Young Adult territory and I STILL struggle with this. Perhaps because I'm technically not QUITE out of my teen years, being 18 and all, but it's so hard to see reason when it's your parents spouting it at you. I loooove that you can relate and understand Francesca, 'cause hey we've all dealt. Melina Marchetta is a genius sos I have no doubts I'll find this amazebeans too.

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  8. ***One important thing you need to know about Melina Marchetta is that she never, never does 'light and fluffy'.*** All her works are wonderfully crafted, quality books with so much substance, heart, and wit. Now, enough of my gushing. ;) Superb review, Sophia! Saving Francesca holds a special place in my heart and I'm glad it did for you, too. :)

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  9. Oh how I love Melina Marchetta and her books! I read Saving Francesca nearly 2 years ago but I still love it so much. I adored all the characters in this book! You have to read The Piper's Son too, Sophia! I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it since the characters from Saving Francesca also appear in The Piper's Son ;)

    Awesome review, Sophia ♥ So glad you enjoyed it!

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  10. Can you believe I still haven't read a book by Melina Marchetta?! I really like the sound of the transformation Francesca undergoes; it sounds super teen-like. Have you read any of Marchetta's other books and if so, which one would you recommend, Sophia?

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  11. I really love Melina Marchetta's books, but this isn't one of her more memorable ones IMO. My favorite of hers will always be Jellicoe Road, so if you haven't read that one you should give it a shot! Great review, I understand how hard it is to voice your opinion about Marchetta's books, they are so unique.

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  12. This is one of my favourite books from Marchetta, though I did enjoy Jellicoe Road a tiny bit more. I'm so glad you liked it! I agree about the characters - I want that group of friends in my life too. I found out recently that we may get a Jimmy book, so I am very excited about that! :)

    Wonderful review.

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  13. Glad you ended up liking this one, Sophia! This is one of my favourite books of all time! XD

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