Publisher/Year: Random House- May 2006
Genres: Contemporary YA
Other Books From Author: Jellicoe Road, The Piper's Son (companion to this), The Lumatere Chronicles, Looking for Alibrandi
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Frankie gets sent to St. Sebastians while all her other friends go to the school she was SUPPOSED to go to. St. Sebastians was formerly an all boys school but they’ve opened it up as coed though the boys aren’t very welcoming and there is little offer to accommodate the girls. To make matters worse, aside from the awful boy/girl ratio, the only people Frankie has to associate with are a couple of classmates she never would have talked to before — a mega feminist, a quiet “loser” and the girl who used to be Frankie’s best friend before her friends “saved” her from her. And just as she starts her new school, her mom suddenly won’t get out of bed and Frankie is left to try to keep her family together.
Things I’m learning? That, for me, there are BOOKS and then there are Melina Marchetta books. I don’t know if I can even begin to describe why this is so but it just IS. This is my second Marchetta book (the first being Jellicoe Road) and I’m just astounded by her and Saving Francesca was no exception. There’s just something about her books that make you step back and go, “WOW.” Jellicoe Road was more WOW WOW (if you’ve read it you know why) but Saving Francesca was a more understated kind of WOW because of how she just characterizes so much humanness. I don’t know. She puts me at a loss for words. It’s strange because Saving Francesca isn’t one of those stories that is like super revolutionary or standout but she just GETS it. It being a lot of things. I wouldn’t even say that Saving Francesca is a new favorite book but it’s just so remarkable and gahhh I can’t even try to explain it. If you are a Melina fan you just know what I mean, right? Or maybe you should use your words and explain the greatness that is MM for me in the comments??
So let’s talk about what I loved about Saving Francesca:
1. I love stories where outcasts/unlikely friends band together! Okay, so Frankie come to this all boys school the first year they decide to integrate girls in and the boy/girl ratio is just BAAAAD. All her friends go to another school and she is one of a small group of girls from her previous school to come here. They are girls who all hung out in vastly different circles (one being Frankie’s former bff whom she ditched) and it’s a bit uncomfortable for them to hang but they have nobody else because the boys certainly are NOT welcoming. I love watching the barriers break down amongst Frankie and the girls as they come together in their strange way and become ACTUAL friends. It made me a little misty eyed. And then it was fun to slowly see some of the boys come around. I just loved Frankie and her rag tag group of friends!!
2. EFF THE MAN!!: A big part of this book is about all these gender issues within the school. The boys don’t want them there and everything is SO not girl friendly. Frankie would be just as well to just not say anything but get through the year but one of Frankie’s former classmates, Tara, is a feminist and she will NOT stand for the crap that the girls are dealing with. I loved watching these girls come together to stand up for the gender issues as they integrated to the once all boys school.
3. Will Trombal: You just need to meet him, okay? You’ll want to kick his stubborn little ass sometimes but he’ll make you smile and warm your heart for sure. Very great character!
4. The storyline with Frankie’s mom + family stuff just made my heart ache: Melina Marchetta knows how to just write convincingly. While Frankie’s mom was just really suffering severe depression I could FEEL her confusion and her anger and her fear and ALL THE THINGS. The tension within the family just broke my heart and I just wanted everything to be okay…for her mom to get better! I loved Frankie’s family and Marchetta just nails the family dynamics and I could feel this crack within the family while Frankie’s mom is just so incapacitated by her depression. MY HEART. Frankie’s dealing with these normal pressures + the issues at her new school all while her world is just falling apart at home. It’s heartbreaking and done SO WELL but also isn’t overwhelming because this book is FUNNY!
Saving Francesca is another beautiful book from Melina Marchetta and now I can’t wait to go read more. Her prose is absolutely to die for and the way she writes characters is remarkable. It’s a poignant coming to age story about a girl whose life is in flux amidst the usual teenage issues — she’s sent off to a previously all boys Catholic school without her friends and her mother, the vibrant woman who always seemed to be the glue of the family, is gripped by severe depression one day. I think it’s less confusing than Jellicoe Road so if you weren’t sold on that popular title than I suggest this one! If you loved Jellicoe Road, I absolutely suggest you read this one!
Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it?