Monday, 19 December 2011

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Finally, a book that portrays relationships realistically, especially the ones between girls and guys. Not all 'just friends' secretly have crushes on each other, as some authors would have you believe. Francesca, in Year Eleven, has moved to an all-boys school that has just started accepting girls. All her friends from her previous school are going to a different school. The other girls in the school include Tina Finke, a feverish petitioner for girl's rights in their school, Siobhan Sullivan, a girl whose (ahem) exploits are well documented on bathroom stalls, and Justine Kalinsky, who plays the accordion piano (no more said). These girls soon become her best friends, along with many of the boys. While there are many heartwarming moments of friendship, the author never makes the book seem to sappy or soap opera-y. After the guys show a sensitive, caring side, it's usually followed up by a comment on the 'endowments' of a particular girl. Francesca does develop a crush, but it's a smart, witty kind of crush, not a mopey one. Her life isn't ruled by her infatuation, a refreshing change to many other teen books.

A side plot to all this is that Francesca's mother is suffering depression and won't come out of her room. Francesca has to work out her perceptions of her family members throughout the book, especially her father, who she blames for her mother's condition. She also has to learn to let go of her old friends who treat her like a pet so she can be who she really is.

All of the relationships in this book ring true. It's heartwarming, hilarious at times (Spice Girls, anyone?), and very eye-opening. The characters are realistic and dynamic, and you'll never get tired of Francesca's smart alec retorts. One of the best books I've read all year.

If you loved this book, you'll like:

Criss Cross by Lyn Rae Perkins
Janey's Girl by Gayle Friesen
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Porcupine by Meg Tilly
Men of Stone by Gayle Friesen
Getting the Girl by Susan Juby
Paper Towns by John Green
The Isabel Factor by Gayle Friesen
Swim the Fly by Don Calame
Losing Forever by Gayle Friesen (and sequel, For Now)

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