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Saving Francesca Paperback – May 9, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"This morning, my mother didn't get out of bed." So begins the saga of Francesca Spinelli, the hilarious and achingly real creation of Aussie author Melina Marchetta. Francesca used to think her biggest problem was transferring to St. Sebastian's--a school only recently turned coed: "What a dream come true, right? Seven hundred and fifty boys and thirty girls? But the reality is that it's either like living in a fish bowl or like you don't exist." But now there's this matter of her usually vibrant and annoyingly optimistic mother Mia refusing to get up in the morning. Her taciturn father doesn't have much to say on the subject, her beloved little brother Luca is anxiously looking to her for answers, and her so-called friends from her old neighborhood seem to have abandoned her. So, Francesca keeps it all inside--her frustration with school (there aren't enough girl's bathrooms and no girl's sports teams); her fear making new friends (with the few girls who do go to St. Sebastian's); and her overwhelming hatred of the smug Will Trombal, who despite being completely infuriating, is also incredibly cute. Keeping this to herself when all she wants to do is spill it to her mother is killing Francesca, but with Mia trying to make herself well again, Francesca will have to figure out how to save herself.

What makes Saving Francesca an exceptional standout in a vast field of mediocre teen chick lit is Frankie's painfully nuanced characterization. It has been ten years since high school teacher Marchetta's break out hit, Looking for Alibrandi, came out in her native Australia, and the care and precision she took in getting Francesca's voice just right is evident. As a result, there isn't a girl alive that wouldn't feel right at home in Francesca's skin. Her frank observations about boys, with their hygienically-challenged habits and their ineptitude in dealing with the opposite sex, are dead-on and riotously funny. Marchetta deftly balances Francesca's humor with a sympathetic depiction of Mia's struggle with clinical depression, creating a well-rounded novel that will prompt both laughter and tears. Fans can only hope that they won't have to wait another decade for Marchetta to gift them with another of honest and moving story. --Jennifer Hubert --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Sixteen-year-old Francesca's compelling voice will carry readers along during a transitional year in her family and school life. The narrator's vivacious mother falls into a deep depression soon after the teen narrator starts "Year Eleven" at St. Sebastian's, a Sydney boys' school now accepting—but not particularly accommodating to—girls (a teacher refers to the class as "gentlemen"; Francesca describes being outnumbered 750 to 30, as "either living in a fish bowl or like you don't exist"). Slowly, she begins to put down roots at her school, bonding with the girls from St. Stella's (her former school) whom she had considered misfits, and with some unlikely guys. She even finds herself falling for Will, whom she originally called "a stick-in-the-mud moron with no personality." Francesca also lets out her own personality, which she had kept hidden at St. Stella's because of her conceited friends. Her mother's illness takes its toll, though. Marchetta (Looking for Alibrandi) beautifully depicts the pain experienced by Francesca's whole family (at a wedding without her mother, Francesca observes while dancing with both her father and brother that even "combined, we feel like an amputee"), and Francesca's anger towards her father starts to escalate ("You think you can fix everything by forgetting about it but you just make things worse," she tells him). Readers will applaud the realistic complexity in the relationships here, the genuine love between the characters, as well as Francesca's ultimate decision to save herself. Ages 12-up.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 243 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (May 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375829830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375829833
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Lux on June 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I picked this up because someone told me they loved it. I'm an adult and I had no idea this was YA fiction until I realized that it was set in high school from the point of view of a high school girl, but by that point, it didn't matter, because the story is so great that teens and adults alike can read it and relate.

I'm not too far out of high school, so Marchetta's descriptions really rung true for me. Francesca deals with feeling like a loner, worrying about doing "the wrong thing," worrying about which friends are her real ones, meeting people outside her "normal" friend circle and realizing that they are worthwhile, too, and dealing with her family. Everything was vivid and lifelike, including Francesca's mother's depression.

I went on highs and lows with Francesca, rooting for her the whole way through, and the end of the book has an excellent resolution that wasn't everything tied up with a pretty ribbon, but learning to deal with your place in the world and finding your own little pocket of happiness and worth.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Annomynous on October 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Saving Francesca is the much awaited second novel by the bestselling author Melina Marchetta. Marchetta's first novel was the award winning cross-over fiction Looking For Alibrandi and readers have been hungry for a second novel from this admired author. Finally Marchetta has produced a novel that satisfies expectations; Saving Francesca. This novel deals with many similar issues as her first novel; multiculturalism, Catholic education and the search for one's identity at a very significant time in life. The style of Melina Marchetta's writing has matured and she has once again produced a compelling read.

Francesca's mother, Mia, is a very motivated and vivacious Communications Lecturer, who plays a huge role in the Spinelli family. Mia insists on sending Francesca to St Sebastian's, an all boy's school which has just started accepting girls. At St Stella's, Francesca's former school, she had belonged to the "cool group," the group that every girl dreams of being in. St Stella's only caters for students up until grade 10 (the majority of the students continued their education at Pius Senior College). Mia believes that Pius Senior College limits students and does not want this for Francesca. Much to Francesca's dismay she is bombarded with testosterone and forced to move away from her comfort zone to associate with three other girls from St Stella's; Siobhan the `slut', Tara the `fanatic' and Justine the `loser'.

The students of St Sebastian's are thoroughly against sharing their school with females. They hate change and especially hate those who cause the change. They cannot deal with girls having an opinion and if faced with an opinionated female, label them a "lesbian".
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alice Williams on October 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"I don't remember the last time anyone used my name...I don't remember the last time anyone looked me in the eye to speak to me. I'm frightened to look at myself in the mirror because maybe nothing's there...I want to be an adjective again. But I'm a noun. A nothing. A nobody. A no one..."

From the best selling and award winning author of Looking for Alibrandi, comes Melina Marchetta's second novel - Saving Francesca, a memorable story, told with much compassion, joy and love. A story that revisits adolescent pain with an Italian heritage, but with a new cast of characters we come to care deeply about.

For as long as Francesca Spinelli can remember, she has relied on other people to tell her who she is. Her mother, Mia, never let a day pass when she would not comment on Francesca's laziness, or talent, or passion. Her friend's at Stella's would compliment on her sweet and non-threatening nature. But in year eleven, Francesca has found herself St. Sebastian's - an all boys school that has recently started accepting girls. Forced out of her contented niche at St. Stella's, she fears she is invisible, believes she is silent and comes to the startling realisation that her identity may well be gone forever. The fact that her manipulative and over-bearing, but deeply relied upon and loved mother, has taken to her bed with depression, adds to Francesca's worries. It appears that life could not get any worse, and Francesca sets out on a turbulent journey to retrieve her identity and survive her mother's illness.

Saving Francesca takes place in terms two and three of Francesca's eleventh year at school.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Valerie StuckInBooks on July 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

My Summary:

Francesca is one of thirty girls going to a coed school that used to be an all boy's school, a school of more than 700 boys. Her mother is falling into deep depression and won't get out of bed for more than 3 months. The friends she thought she had at her old school aren't really friends. The only choices for new friends are a rag tag group of outcasts. She has strange neighbors that are always happy, driving her nuts. She blames her dad for her mom being sick. The 12th year prefect is driving her crazy. She doesn't smile or talk much. Can her life ever get any better?

My thoughts:

2 stars- not my taste

So I heard about this book on another blog and checked it out on goodreads. Everyone loved it, so I picked it up at the library. I started reading and thought what is up with this writing? I put it down. I don't usually finish books I don't like so I was surprised when I picked it back up. There has to be something there, so many people liked it. I waited. I read. I never liked it. But maybe you will.

Here are the problems I had with this book:
* Scattered writing where it seems that scenes go unfinished and forgotten
* Severe depression not being treated to the point that it's neglect
* Too many big problems that overwhelm the story
* Too many minor characters that make my head spin

So you can probably tell from my summary that there are a lot of story points that are wrapped up in a relatively short book. No wonder scenes seem to go unfinished, no room to deal with it all. As for the depression, I live with family that suffers from it.
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