Publication Date: March 31, 2003Review: 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.
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
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.
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.