Saving Francesca

Saving Francescaby Melina Marchetta

Francesca is not exactly happy.  Her mother, Mia, otherwise know as the “Queen of Limitation Placers,” has forced her to go to St. Sebastian’s, a former all-boys school with a total of only 30 girls, instead of Pius where all her friends went.  Now she’s practically friendless, hanging out with a ragtag group of girls she doesn’t feel she can relate to and being ignored by burping, farting, juvenile boys she goes to school with.  But when Mia, who was always vivacious and energetic, suddenly doesn’t get out of bed one day, one week, one month, Francesca’s world changes.  Francesca is suddenly in charge of a lot more of her life than she ever imagined and has to figure out who she is and who she wants to be all while coping with her Mia’s illness and how much she really needs and misses her mother.

Reaction: Ok, I LOVE Melina Marchetta.  I absolutely adored Jellicoe Road but I didn’t review it because I read it during Cybils judging.  If you want to read a review of it that says everything I wished I could say but never would be able to say as well, check out Trisha’s over at the Ya Ya Yas.  Moving on to the book at hand, after I read Jellicoe I had to read everything else Melina Marchetta has written, at least everything else that is currently released in the US, so I started with Saving Francesca.  And, Wow.

So, Francesca’s pretty cool but she’s got a few problems.  While she thinks her main problem is her mother her main problem is that she let a group of “cool” girls who call themselves her friends dictate who she is in order to fit it.  I think this happens to a lot of girls.  Who wants to be the weirdo, outsider, freak and be yourself when you can mold yourself into something more acceptable?  Slowly, though, without her mother breathing down her neck about it, Francesca begins to figure out what is important to her and sticks up for those beliefs despite the criticism that may follow.  This is not to say, though, that Francesca does not miss her mother, because she does.  It was so sad to watch her realize what a huge part her mother played in her everyday life and how empty she feels while her mother is dealing with her depression.  Her mother’s absence brought on some pretty awesome fights between Francesca and her father.  I thought this was one of the relationships and interactions that ran the truest (is that a word?), the father/daughter mash-up.  I also enjoyed watching Francesca become friends with the most unlikely characters and even a pre-friends brainwashing friend.

While there were little things here or there I would change or omit, the biggest for me was that I wished Francesca and Will, for the intensity of their feelings, had actually spent a bit more time together.  Plus, I really just could have done with more Will. ;)

Saving Francesca was in my TBR pile but it shot to the top after I read this Hot Moment from Young Adult Romance Reviews.  If my review didn’t convince you to read Saving Francesca (if you haven’t already) then this will.