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 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.
Saving Francesca is the first contemporary fiction novel I have read from author Melina Marchetta, and I found it to be a beautifully realistic coming of age story.
Francesca is a young girl dealing with some major changes in her life, the most important being her mom’s sudden depression. Her whole world has been turned upside down and she struggles to come to terms with what has happened to her family. Seeing a sad and lonely girl fall apart and missing her mom was heartbreaking, yet I found a beauty in the ways her family came together to try to support each other and work through it. It was broken and ugly at times, but that just made everything more amazing. Francesca’s passion for her mother was truly inspirational.
Francesca was quite complex character, almost an enigma. She could come off as shy and self-conscious, but she could also be very straight forward and confident at the same time. She was also extremely clever and snarky, which I loved about her! It reminded me once again of my love for another amazing Melina Marchetta character, Evanjalin from the Lumatere Chronicles. Marchetta has an incredible knack for creating these powerful and beautiful female characters that remain unforgettable in my eyes.
Through all of Francesca’s struggles, she was able to develop some strong new friendships with some remarkable people. They all had some quirks but I think Jimmy was my favorite. He just stormed right into her life, and made himself welcome. There was also the workings of a romance, but it really wasn’t as prominent as I had hoped. I think this was my only qualm with the novel because it would seem like we would finally be going somewhere but then the plot would turn again and we would go backwards. I don’t think this type of storyline needs much of a romantic element, but at times I felt like I was getting whiplash. It was definitely more of a slow building plot, but I enjoyed where it all lead to in the end.
If you love coming of age stories, than this is definitely one you need to pick up! Saving Francesca was just my first taste of Melina Marchetta’s contemporary fiction and I look forward to reading more!