Welcome to this week’s Spotlight Saturday where I shine the spotlight on an Australian book I think is worth the read. Today I am shining the spotlight on the YA contemporary, ‘Saving Francesca’ by the brilliant Melina Marchetta. And this is my fourth book for the Australian Women Writers Challenge.
The synopsis from Goodreads:
Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys’ school that pretends it’s co-ed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas who specializes in musical burping to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.
Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.
5 out of 5 stars (Maggie Stiefvater also gave it 5 out of 5, just sayin’.)
Every single book by Melina Marchetta that I have read I have loved, and Saving Francesca was no exception. This book had me well and truly hooked – I finished it in one sitting, staying up until 2.30 am to do so even though I had to work the next day.
Marchetta knows how to write deeply compelling, realistic characters. All her characters, even minor ones, are so full of personalty that they jump off the page.
Francesca is a silent angry girl. Her previous school only went to Year 10 so she has to go to a new school for Year 11 and 12. She is angry that her mum has forced her to go to the all boys’ school when all her friends get to go to Pius Senior College. And she is angry with her mum for not getting out of bed, she’s angry at her family for not telling her what’s going on with her mum, and she’s increasingly getting angry at her dad for not being able to keep the family in one piece.
Francesca feels lost without her friends, she hangs out with some of the girls at her new school but she doesn’t consider them friends. And with everything falling apart at home, she feels lost and is longing for someone to see her and ask her how she is.
But sometimes when we are thrown into a difficult situation we find out who we are and who our true friends are. Francesca discovers that her ‘friends’ aren’t such good friends after all, and that the girls, and boys, at her new school, may just be the best friends she’s ever had.
Amongst the drama at school, Francesca finds herself falling for the annoyingly smug, William Trombal. I just loved the interactions between Francesca and William, loved watching their feelings for one and other change. I loved how Will was imperfect, how Francesca hadn’t even thought him cute until he smiled. I loved how Francesca affected him and the few sweet moments we get to see.
Saving Francesca will make you want to laugh and make you want to cry. It is a book about friendship, family, and first love. It is about finding out who you really are and letting yourself be the real you. It is a must read for all lovers of YA contemporary; I highly recommend it.
Now that I’ve read Saving Francesca I can’t wait to read ‘The Piper’s Son,’ a sort of companion book to Francesca; it is set five years later and revolves around one of Francesca’s male friends.
Melina’s books are available from the book depository and Amazon. You can add it to your Goodreads here: