Book Talk: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta





book synopsis

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.

good books to read

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!

book reviews

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!



short book reviewSaving Francesca book review Melina Marchetta


Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

The Perpetual Page-Turner


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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Yes, yes, yes! So much love for this book. Now you NEED to read The Piper’s Son!!! It takes place a few years later and SLAYED ME! Love 🙂

  2. Melina Marchetta is definitely like no other. This was my first book to read by her and it completely wow’ed me. I know I have said this a million times, but I can NOT wait for you to read The Piper’s Son. If you loved this one, I have a feeling great things are ahead for you Jamie when you read The Piper’s Son.

  3. This is one of my perpetual top 5 books of all time and probably my favorite of Marchetta’s novels. I hope you plan to read the companion The Piper’s Son soon!

  4. This sounds really good!! Love finding new-to-me authors.

  5. I ditto what everyone else said — next up, The Piper’s Son!!!

    And I agree: there are books and then there are MM books.

  6. I’m so glad you liked this one! Will is so great and the part where his family member calls her Sophie is one of my favorite parts. Melina is so incredible and her books are ones I always want to revisit and the characters feel like friends. I agree with everyone telling you to read The Piper’s Son!

  7. You just made me want to bump this up on my TBR! Jellicoe Road is one of my favorite books EVER, so I’m glad this one sounds just as good too!

  8. Leah Claire says:

    Oh my goodness…I loved this book too! So glad you felt the same way. She also has a fantasy series–completely different from Francesca but her world-building is pretty amazing.

  9. Hi! Great review – this is one of my fav books! You’re right, Marchetta just ‘gets it’. This is my favourite of her books, and I’d love to read more about what happens with the amazing cast of characters after ‘The Piper’s Son’ – I hope she writes another one!

  10. “Use my words”? But but. MM has already used them all! I feel like I have nothing left to explain why and how her books are so wonderful.

    Maybe that’s a way to describe her. She’s so amazing that she steals the words away.

  11. Ok, I definitely want to read this book now. I’m really interested in gender issues and I don’t think that’s explored enough in YA, so AHH EXCITED. This sounds like everything I’d like in a book, from the unlikely friends to the mental illness aspect to the boy. I’m very interested in this Will character.

  12. I’m not a huge fan of these types of books so I wasn’t really interested in this one at first. It sounds interesting though and your review makes me want to read it next! Great review

  13. Christina R. says:

    I HAVE to read this!! I’ve heard nothing but awesome things about this one!!

    I love the concept, about girls let into an all boys school. It’s awesome what you said about it also being about friendship, about girls who wouldn’t naturally hang out becoming friends because of who they are not about what group they fit into.

    The guy sounds awesome too!!

    Glad that depression relates to a family member, not the character. That’s a different way of talking about this important issue!

    Lovely review 🙂

  14. It’s been so long since I read this book… almost four years now, but I remember loving it. I actually just picked up The Piper’s Son from the library because I couldn’t not reread a Melina Marchetta novel.

    I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this one!

  15. This book is fantastic! One of my all-time favorites. It made me pick up all of Melina Marchetta’s novels because I was so impressed with it!

  16. I am looking forward to reading Saving Francesca! I’ve read Jellicoe Road, and also the entire Lumatere Chronicles, and I have to agree about Marchetta. There’s something about her writing that just feels so raw and so real, like she really gets what she’s writing about (whether it’s her contemporary novel or her fantasy series). It’s seriously awe-inspiring and wonderful! Can’t wait for this one to come in the mail so I can read it.