Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta


Published: March 31, 2003 by Knopf Books
Received: bought from Barnes & Noble
Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian's, 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 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. {taken from goodreads.com}
Once I finished this book, my first reaction was -- WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!  Seriously.  If you have not been introduced to Melina Marchetta and the beauty of her writing, then I suggest you put down whatever book you're reading & grab this one RIGHT NOW.  I had heard such wonderful things about this author, and a part of me was ashamed for not reaching out to her sooner.  But now that I have, I am ever so grateful for it.

Francesca is starting her eleventh year at a new school, a predominantly all boys school.  Her parents, mostly her mother, felt that she needed to be challenged more so they uprooted her from her comfort zone & dropped her in to new surroundings.  Every thing about this new place, Francesca hates.  She liked her old friends, her old school, but most of all she relished in the ability to just seep in to the hallways and be lost every day.  She didn't have to impress anyone, she was already accepted.  Things at home have taken a turn for the worse, as well.  Francesca's mother refuses to get out of bed.  The once lively, heart beat of the family has now isolated herself to her bedroom.  As Francesca tries to remember the warning signs as to what could have possibly gone wrong to lead her mother to such a deep depression, she also struggles with her father who refuses to get help -- and in turn thinks that she will just "get better eventually".

This book took me by surprise; a very sweet surprise.  I was not expecting such a deep connection to be made.  The writing is what drew me in from the first few pages.  The story is being told through Francesca's eyes and immediately you are right there with her, among the uncertainty and uncomfortableness.  The relationships that she finds at her new school is what stood out the most for me.  To say that I am completely in love with the way it unfolded, is an understatement.  Here we have 4 girls, adolescent girls, trying to find their way among a sea of teenage boys.  The hormones are out of control!  At first every one's defense is up, but page by page their shells are pealed away and we start to see that just like Francesca they are all just trying to find their way.  It's a beauty full of so much raw emotion.

I felt that Melina Marchetta did a superb job of touching on the effects of what depression can do to a family.  It does not effect just one person, but every one else in their lives as well.  The brutal truth of not knowing how to help someone is always present, but I also appreciated the fact that it isn't wrapped up nicely in the end either.  Depression is a disease that can have a long road of recovery ahead of it.  One day at a time, one step at a time.  That is how Francesca tackles this beast.  Sometimes, even the strongest people need to lean on others for support.  And that's ok.  We all need saving at one time or another.  So do me a favor, pick up this book and let it consume you.  Relish in the beauty of Melina Marchetta's writing and then move on to her other books, as I am doing now.  This author creates more than just stories, they are pieces of art.  Art that effects your mind and heart.





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16 comments:

  1. I read this so long ago, when it was first released, and loved it. Glad you did, too! :]

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  2. so glad you loved this book. it's in my top ten faves and is completely beautiful.

    btw, that cover is SO unbelievably gorgeous. my definite fave out of all her covers :)

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  3. I have yet to read anything by her although everyone keeps pushing me to! Your review definitely makes it sound like something I NEED to read! Guess I will have to put this at the top of my list.

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  4. I thought she did a great job with showing how depression involves the whole family. I actual had a quote in my review which I thought summed it up really well. :) Great review!

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  5. Sounds like a great story.

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  6. Ack!! Ok now I want to read this one badly thanks to your review!!! I have Jellicoe Road on my tbr pile, I need to skip some review books and read it soon. I've heard her writing is amazing! Great review Ginger! =)

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  7. I loved this one too. I also loved how the friendships were portrayed. Oh and that there's a half-Filipina character! :)

    Wait until you read Jellicoe Road. :D

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  8. I have this book on its way to me based purely on your review! This sounds like such a great book, thanks for bringing it to my attention :)

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  9. This is my favorite of Melina's books (and I've read all of hers that I could get here in the States).

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  10. I've only read Jellicoe Road, but I absolutely fell in love with Melina's writing with that one. I'm really looking forward to picking up Saving Francesca thanks to your review.

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  11. Cynthia- READ IT!! Melina Marchetta is beyond amazing!! I love her!

    Ginger- BEAUTIFUL review! I am SO incredibly glad that you loved this one so much! It makes me deliriously happy that you read these because I pushed so hard. :D *beams* You did a great job talking about the brilliance of the book, the writing, the characters etc. <3

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  12. Ginger, this is one of the most well-written reviews I've ever seen. This sounds so so powerful, and I'm adding it to my list based on your review. Fabulous job! :)

    BEA is brilliant, but it would be better with you here!

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  13. I loved Marchetta's Jellicoe Road, so ever since then, I've been wanting to read Saving Francesca. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I can't wait to try it for myself!

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  14. Wow! I think I have to read this one. :) Thanks for the review.

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  15. I LOVE this book! It is so beautiful and awesome and relatable. Melina Marchetta is a writing goddess! Slowly making my way through her books and so far every story of her's that I've read has been a brilliant success! :)

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  16. This is one of my favourite books! I just finished her follow up novel, the Piper's son. All I can say is wow. Just wow. If you connected with the characters in Francesca, you will fall in love with them all over again in that one.

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