Title: Saving Francesca
Author: Melina Marchetta
Published: Published May 9th 2006 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published March 31st 2003)
Purchase: Book Depository | Amazon
Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastians – a boys’ school that pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist (a rumored slut) and a dorky accordion player.
The boys are no better, from Thomas who specialises in musical burping to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t help thinking about.
Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca. Mum is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling who she really is.
I didn’t realize when I ordered this book how important it’d become to me, how much meaning these characters would hold, how much I’d fall in love with Melina Marchetta’s writing. She’s a goddess. Purchasing it on a whim due to my interest in The Piper’s Son, I devoured this short, impactful book in one sitting desperately hoping for more. I was fascinated by how real the characters felt, how natural and genuine their relationships were, how I now knew that no contemporary could live up to Saving Francesca.
Everything about it was refreshing, from the flawed and realistically written characters, to the somewhat awkward, not really realizing when you’d started liking that person romance and the friendships that made you think “when did this become a thing? When did we become a group?”
I liked the diversity of personalities in this book, one guy slightly awkward, the other an asshole with biting remarks, another completely comfortable and perceptive who knew just what needed to be said, a girl wild and free and sometimes confused, one who was fiery and passionate and a bit exhausting. another who was quietly fierce and compassionate. Then there’s Franscesca, holding it together with her family falling apart, adapting to an all boy’s school, tamping down her loudness, trying to find her identity. There’s just this perfect balance of friendship, family, love and conflict wittily written with a rawness that’s rare to find.
Saving Francesca redefined what I searched for in YA and after rereading it this year it was solidified as my all time favourite book. Francesca, her friends and family burrowed themselves deeply in my heart and it was the book that introduced me to the queen of YA, to my favourite author, Melina Marchetta.