Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Title: Saving Francesca
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 31, 2003

Summary from Goodreads:
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, 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.


To me, it doesn't get much better than Melina Marchetta. Her writing is simultaneously beautiful, delightful, soulful, colorful, hopeful, fruitful, playful, sorrowful... I can't think of any more 'ful words, but you get my point.

Francesca is so used to people telling her who she is and what she wants - from her mother to her so-called friends - that when they stop, she is utterly lost.
"I miss the Stella girls telling me what I am. That I'm sweet and placid and accommodating and loyal and nonthreatening and good to have around. And Mia. I want her to say, 'Frankie, you're silly, you're lazy, you're talented, you're passionate, you're restrained, you're blossoming, you're contrary.'
I want to be an adjective again.
But I'm a noun.
A nothing. A nobody. A no one." 
And she struggles to find herself again because she has the voices of them in her head, constantly judging her and holding her back. And anytime she edges toward happiness, she feels guilty because her mother is at home suffering.
"And being that happy makes me feel guilty. Because I shouldn't be. Not while my mum is feeling the way that she is. How I can dare to be happy is beyond me, and I hate my guts for it.
I hate myself so much that it makes my head spin."
It was hard to be in her head sometimes. She was feeling so many emotions it was like they overpowered her and left her numb, empty and sometimes she couldn't be bothered to feel anything. But I could understand why. I don't know what I'd do if my mother feel apart like that. Like Francesca and her mother, my mother is so much a part of who I am. It was so difficult to watch her family self-destruct.

But slowly, Francesca found her way in the world. She found a place among those people she fancied companions, who turned out to be so much more. They let her be anyone she wanted and they never presumed, judged,  or expected anything.
"We stay like that for a while. No one tries to analyze it or offer solutions. No one interrupts. Sometimes, momentarily, I'm embarrassed by the whole disclosure, but I realize that I trust these people and I don't know how or when that happened."
I loved her band of misfits - Thomas Mackee, the 'slob' and Tara Finke, the 'fanatic' and Justine Kalinsky, the 'loser' and Siobhan Sullivan, the 'slut' and Jimmy Hailler, the troublemaker and Will Trombal, the 'stick-in-the-mud moron with no personality'. I loved how they just worked despite being so different. And I loved how they were there for Francesca as she tried to piece back together her home life.
" I want the bus driver to turn the bus around and I want to spend the rest of my days in a whirlwind of the last few days. Of flirting. Of laughing. Of riding the world evil. Of folk songs. Of piggybacks. Of hip-hop dancing. Of foolishness.
And most of all, of forgetting.
I look past them to where Will and his friends are sitting, and he catches my eye for a moment and smiles. It's a weird smile, but it reaches his eyes and I bottle it. And I put it in my ammo pack that's kept right next to my soul. The one that holds Mia's scent and Justine's spirit and Siobhan's hope and Tara's passions. Because if I'm going to wake up one morning and no be able to get out of bed, I'm going to need everything I've got to fight this bastard of a disease that could be sleeping inside of me."
There are so many strong but unassuming relationships in this book. The most obvious being the one with her new friends, but there was also the strained relationship with her father - who at his core was really good guy but had flaws just like the rest of us - and the relationship between her parents, which was built on so much love and devotion. But perhaps, the best of them all was her relationship with her brother. Francesca took such good care of him and it really moved me to see that sibling affection.

The book was not an easy read - my heart really went out to all of these characters, especially Francesca - but Melina Marchetta's writing is so lovely that it was an enjoyable one. Even though this was serious story, Marchetta still management to make me laugh and smile many times throughout. I can say for a fact that this one will always stay with me - like all of her work. There is just something about her stories... they can't be beat. If you haven't read anything by her yet, you must remedy that. I recommend her work above all else.

Copyright © 2014 The Quiet Concert
Template and Design by New Chapter Designs