Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastians, a boys’ school that’s pretends it’s coed 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, along, 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.
Cover: that girl looks like Anne Hathaway. COME ON. I can’t be the only one to think so. IT’S TRUE. Oh, and I do like the cover.
Before Reading: this is my third Marchetta book, and although I did really like Jellicoe Road and Finnikin of the Rock, I didn’t understand why everyone loved Marchetta’s work THAT much. Well, uh, this book changed that.
Saving Francesca is the book I’d shove in your hand if you told me to find you a classic YA contemporary. It’s what I’d recommend if you want to see a good ol’ character-driven plot. And it’s definitely what I’d go around telling everyone to read because I loved almost every single character in this book.
Melina Marchetta has (among many) a strong point: she knows how to have character growth. Francesca isn’t the only one who changed. Almost every character who was friends with Francesca had this amazing character arc that makes me reiterate: contemporary is the backbone of YA.
Good contemporary makes you think. It makes you relate. It makes you fall in love with a swoony boy. Saving Francesca did all that. The fact that she’s Italian in Australia- I can relate, even though I’m nowhere near any of those two ethnicities. And it made it all the more special for me.
The swoony guy is what YOU must be thinking about. It wasn’t our love interest Will Trombal, incidentally. I mean, I did like him, but it was Jimmy Hailler who I really fell for. I have no idea why; I mean, he’s weird and funny and sweet and warm and… yeah. I just really liked him. *blushes furiously* *clears throat* *glares at anybody who gives me a weird look*
Moving on. I can’t finish this review without mentioning all the amazing supporting characters: Justine, Tara, Siobhan, THOMAS (I almost liked him, too, only he apparently turned out to be taken) and even the Stella girls. And of course Jimmy Hailler. *blushes again*
I’m in love with this book. And Jimmy Hailler. I’m seriously hugging the book right now because it was amazing and beautiful and it made me fall for the vibrant characters, especially Jimmy Hailler so yeah. This might just be my new favourite YA book.
And although this wasn’t by Jimmy Hailler, I loved this conversation, because I could imagine even a regular high school guy saying this:
“Do you think people have noticed that I’m around?”
“I notice when you’re not. Does that count?”
Oh my gosh, that’s SO sweet. I’m also a teenage girl, so it must be why I love that line so much, even if it’s slightly cheesy.
Parting Thoughts: this is GOOD contemporary, the kind that would be ridiculously fattening because of everyone knows that all the good things are bad for you. But this is a book, thank goodness, so it only opened my mind and made me acknowledge that yes, Melina Marchetta is the queen of contemporary.
Rating: 5/5. Read this, peeps. I loved Saving Francesca, and if you love contemporary, methinks you’ll fall head over heels in love with this one. Also, Jimmy Hailler is mine.