Australian author Marchetta follows her Printz Award�winning Jellicoe Road (2008) and the high-fantasy Finnikin of the Rock (2010) with this realistic, stand-alone companion to Saving Francesca (2004), set five years later in the same urban neighborhood. After the death of his beloved uncle Joe in an overseas bomb blast, Tom dropped out of the university, and his family spun apart. After a rock-bottom moment leaves Tom homeless with a head full of stitches, he moves in with his aunt Georgie, who is pregnant at 42 and navigating a fraught relationship with a sometimes-estranged partner. Marchetta draws in familiar faces from Saving Francesca, including the title character, as Tom begins to reclaim his life and reach out to the girl he can�t forget. Readers may find that the narrative loses focus in frequent switches to Georgie�s point of view, but the multidimensional adult characters add to the story�s deep flashes of authenticity. A memorable portrait of first love, surviving grief, and the messy contradictions and fierce bonds that hold friends and family together. Grades 9-12. --Gillian Engberg
"Tom’s aunt Georgie spoke to me first, and Tom found me through her. At the time, I didn’t actually think Tom was a big enough character to carry a story. If it had to be anyone from Saving Francesca, I thought, it would be Will Trombal or Tara. But the line in Francesca, ‘I want to be the first male in the Mackee family to reach 40 and still have a liver’ stuck with me, and in the end, Tom has been one of the biggest surprises. I’m glad I didn’t kick him out of my head."
- Melina Marchetta — Quote