Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Francesca is new at St. Sebastian’s, a former all-boys school. Her only female companions are the ultra-feminist Tara, the “slut” Siobahn, and her best friend Justine. Her male companions are Thomas the slob, Jimmy the stoner, and Will the senior that won’t stop making Francesca grin.
Outside of school, Fran has her ambitious mother that becomes suddenly severely depressed and her average-joe father.
It is an incredibly touching story that takes you back in time to when you yourself were in school.
Francesca and her friends make up a group of incredibly relatable characters that embody a cross section of any highschool in the world with the essential divisions into slobs, stoners, and high achievers. The book is set in Sydney, Australia and offers a glimpse into the Australian transition into a more inclusive educational system. It is a very important book that introduces feminism, refugees, and identity. The author also writes in a very interesting manner, in which she offer glimpses into side characters’ lives without rounding them out. This allows for a very realistic narrative, since we all mainly focus on our own story but have people in our lives with stories that we are partially invited to.
The writing is also very fascinating; it is written in first person and manages to capture the essence of a teenage girl’s voice. One interesting device is the repetion of “When I grow up, I am going to become…” that changes each time she says it. She wants to be a teacher, a police, and lastly she says she wants to be her mother. That part was the most relatable for me, because in highschool I was completely lost at a time that my future rested on. It is stupid to ask a teenager to decide their whole future when they’re 18. Not everyone has their life figured out, and if they do they might not always be happy with them but be forced to follow through due to society’s demands. All of this is scrutinised subtly in the book through its many socially diverse characters.
The only thing I would have wanted it to explore along with feminism, refugees, and identity would have been native Australians. Their lack of representation was duly noted since they make up a large part of the non-extensive Australian history.
This is the only book written in first person that I am whole-heartedly willing to give a 5 star rating to! Incredible, riveting, immense!