The Compulsive Reader: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Francesca Spinelli hates her new school, a formerly all-boys academy with 750 male students and only 29 other females. She’s not interested in friendship with any of her peculiar female classmates, and the boys are even worse than the girls—unwelcoming, angry, and rude. When Francesca’s spirited mother won’t get out of bed one morning, Francesca is shaken out of her resentful, apathetic rut and must figure out her place at her new school and how to keep her family from falling apart.

Saving Francesca is a compelling perspective on high school, family, and the difficult territory between childhood and adulthood. Francesca has a powerful voice and Marchetta uses smart humor and quick-witted banter to explore how society encourages the repression of female emotion in high school and beyond. The story is slow to build, with many characters and subplots, but they all steer back to Francesca and her journey to break down the boxes of expectation that she has put herself in, and her process of accepting her mother’s depression for the complex illness that it is. Marchetta uses first person present tense to draw the reader into the narrative, and give voice to Francesca’s stream-of-consciousness thoughts and reactions as she comes to the realization that no one is going to save her from her own unhappiness except herself. Saving Francesca is a beautifully written, complex novel with a highly satisfying emotional arc.

Cover Comments: I'm not a huge fan of the American cover. I think it needs some updating.

Book borrowed from my library.


Anonymous said...

I've only read Marchetta's Jellicoe Road, which is a beautiful book, but I've been meaning to read Saving Francesca as well. Thanks for the great review! I will add it to my TBR pile!

Sarah Laurence said...

Fine review! I also enjoyed this early novel by Marchetta, but I preferred Jellicoe Road, which was more literary and less predictable. She writes unforgettable characters. The Piper's Son, a companion book to Saving Francesca, is in my TBR stack.

Anonymous said...

Great review! I love this book so much and I actually thing it's her most accesible one, but I do love The Piper's son just a bit more

The Compulsive Reader said...

I have The Piper's Son on order at my indie, along with Looking for Alibrandi! And I am going to devour her fantasy series as soon as my thesis is finished. I want to sit down and read them all in one go. My friend is reading Finnikin right now and is loving it.