Customer Reviews: Looking for Alibrandi
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on April 4, 2003
For as long as she can remember, seventeen year old Josephine Alibrandi has believed her life to be anything but fortunate. Born to a single impecunious mother from a strong Italian background, Josie has never met her father and doesn't fit in at her elitist Sydney Catholic school on account of her scholarship and inability to conform. She also refuses to embrace any part of her heritage, including her grandmother. However, to make her existence even more of a nightmare, she is constantly reminded of these factors by arch- nemesis "Poison Ivy." Not only is Ivy her superior as school captain, but she is also after the charming, white-collar, extremely wealthy, John Barton. The very same man Josie believes she is destined to be with.
Just when Josie thinks her life couldn't possibly become anymore convoluted, she is finding herself more and more attracted to blue-collar bad boy Jacob Coote. And what does her fathers reappearance after a seventeen year absence mean for her? Not to mention having to bear the burden of a thirty five year old secret, her Nona's been keeping, after mistakenly stumbling across it. Will this new information threaten to make her feel more estranged from both her family and heritage than she already does, or will it bring her closer to them. And will she be strong enough to cope when tragedy strikes so close to home? That is all of course without even contemplating the stresses of her upcoming HSC.
Set in Australia in the 1990's, this book is a turbulent ride of self-discovery, which deals with themes deemed extremely topical in today's modern teenage society. Not only does Marchetta build realism through creating strength within her characters, she further authenticates them by making their struggles identifiable to a majority of teenagers. She does this by using interrelated themes, such as identity, culture, illegitimacy, sex, single parent families and elitism, to name a few, which ultimately transcend culture. The end product of which, is a novel relevant to teenagers all around the world.
Melina Marchetta's main protagonist Josie, can only be described as awe inspiring, covering new territory that was not seen previously in Australian literature. I love this book for it's rare and honest view of the struggles teenagers face in today's modern world. Josie's complexities as a character, implore the reader to keep going so as to see how she handles each of the perplexing situations which befall her. There is also an enjoyably mix of the dramatic and comedic. This type of honest, identifiable and offbeat, teenage subject matter is to an extent what can be seen as Marchetta's trademark. When also considering the content of her newly released, second novel Saving Francesca, which focuses on a young teenaged girl who finds it hard to cope with the pressures of study, family, friendship and the male school environment, when starting at a newly converted co-ed Sydney private school. "Looking for Alibrandi" is definitely worth reading and has in my experience captured readers of all ages and genders.
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on April 12, 2008
This book is a testament for those people who admit that there are no unique premises anymore, only unique ways of telling them. Coming-of-age stories are tough because they can be a rather indistinguishable group with only the author's voice as the discriminant. Thank God Melina Marchetta's got one hell of a voice in this novel.

I'll admit that when I started reading this story, I thought it would be one of those formulaic, nothing-special tales about an obnoxious girl who goes to school, is in the middle of a family feud with her foul-tempered relatives, and through a series of unlikely events, falls "in love" with some bland boy whose only attribute is his good-looks. The beginning chapter, where you get to see a firsthand example of Josephine's cheekiness, didn't help in deterring my theory. But then... well, as they say, then it's all history. I got engrossed in the story. Josephine Alibrandi is sassy and sometimes too spoiled for her own good, but she's a fun character to read about. You find yourself laughing at her thoughts (not because they are petty but because they are truly funny) and you find that you can relate to her. This is especially true in the parts where you see her friends and the two boys who're special to her.

The part I liked best of this story, though, was the family aspect of it. Josephine's family is from Sicily and their culture shines through in many ways. I was amazed by the "family secrets" subplot, which was very cleverly crafted and contributed to the depth of this book in many ways. The relationships in the family are tested and we get to see what lies underneath the surface, what makes the family members the way they are, and what put everyone in the less-than-perfect predicament they're in when the novel begins.

In short: Melina Marchetta has written an unforgettable story with touching characters, a tight plot, and great wit. This is an all-time must-read and if you haven't read it yet, you're missing out big time.
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on February 17, 2004
This book was given to me when I was 16 from one of my Australian relatives, and has become one of my favorite books of all time. Although it's been four years, I still pull it out often to read again. Looking for Alibrandi is a fantastic coming of age book, and for people like me who have a soft spot for this genre, it will make it to the top of your list. The feelings and characters in the book are completely genuine, and the events feel so real that you will alternately be cheering and crying (as clichéd as that sounds!). I would definitely recommend this book to any teenage girl, no matter where they are from.
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on October 24, 2005
Looking for Alibrandi is my favourite book ever. This interesting book is filled with romance, hardships, lovely experiences and discoveries. Josephine desperately wants to be emancipated, and through her search for liberation, she becomes a more matured and beautiful lady. She gets to know her grandmother better, and grows closer to her mother. She also comes to know of her "long lost" father, Michael. At first she pretends that she does not want to get to know him better, but one incident brought them closer together. I especially like the part about her relationship between Jacob Cooste and John Barton. This book is so touching that I cried so many times when I read it. I really like the way the author writes it. It has definitely helped me improved my english. All in all, this book is a page-turner. (:
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on December 6, 2003
If one reads any of my other book reviews it is not hard to tell that I have a flare for the unusualy, but the novel was one that I enjoyed never-the-less. I think it is so universal because everyone can relate to Joe's problems and situations. We have all have trouble choosing a boyfriend or girlfriend, and we have all had problems with family from time to time. I think the real beauty is how she deals with her father in the novel, something I was touched by and can relate to personally. A must read.
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on April 29, 2000
'Looking for Alibrandi' focuses on 17 yr old Josephine Alibrandi, the illegitimate daughter of an Italian woman named Christina. Throughout this book the reader learns of Alibrandi's struggle for acceptance between the strong Italian community of Western Sydney and the upper class society that surounds the school in which she attends, these two factors are the basis for many of the underlying discourses throughtout this book. Primarily aimed at youth, I felt 'Looking for Alibrandi' appealed to a wide range of audiences and was easy for many to identify with. The only major discrepancy I found with this book was the author's use of language with the younger characters especially when in conversation. I found certin words they used a bit unrealistic and dated. This in turn prevented the reader, especially younger ones, from being able to completely connect to the characters. Overall 'Looking for Alibrandi' is a brilliantly written book, I can see why it is on the year 12 book list for Australian schools. I feel people of any nationality or social standing will be able to find some relevance within this book to their own lives.
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on May 10, 2015
Looking for Alibrandi takes me to a part of Australia I didn’t know existed and includes characters I never suspected were part of Australian life. Josephine Alibrandi has never known her father, and the lack of a father is a major problem in her Italian family. Just being from an Italian heritage sets Josephine up for scorn from her solidly Australian friends, and not having a father sets Josephine up for scorn from both her Australian friends and her Italian family.

And then her father comes back into her life.

Josephine is a wonderfully real teen, full of both worries and courage, as she unexpectedly comes to connect with both her dad and other teens.
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on April 26, 2000
Looking for Alibrandi would have to be the best book I have ever read. Melina Marchetta was able to realitically grasp the pain, turmoil, joy, fun and tears of this 17 year old Josephine Alibrandi. The book allowed me to delve into the minds of the characters and instead of siding with the main character, it allowed me to understand why they did what they did when they did it. I was angry, sad, understanding and laughed nearly the whole way through. Even though the situations was mostly sad and thoughtprovoking, the humour and positive outlook was never lost which what made it so realistic. I first read it when i was 13, i am 20 now and i still read it. I recommend anyone of all ages to borrow, buy, grap a copy of this text that will always be with you for the rest of your life. You will never see the world the same again!
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on March 11, 2001
like many other reviewers, i too had to read this book for school. at first i thought it'd be really boring, like many of the other books ive read for school, but once i started reading it i couldn't stop! i think it's a very real and honest portrayal of a teenager with an italian background living in Australia, who has to not only deal with her 'different' family but also with her friends, boyfriends and school. it really doesnt matter if you're italian or not though, because everybody can relate to josie and all her problems. It's a very funny but also sad book, which left me crying at a lot of parts! so if u havent read it yet, u should do so soon, because i guarentee u'll love it!
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on October 24, 1999
I had to read this book for English and expected a book that couldn't relate to the struggles teens have to face. However, I was shocked, but delighted in finding that this book managed to write about these problems in a way that was human. The underlaying themes- racism, multiculturalism, fitting in socially, dealing with illegitimicy and tradition, are beautifully dealt with. The way in which she discovers her past helps us to think their may be a future. I strongly recommend this book to everyone.
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