Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Publication: May 9, 2006
(243 pages, paperback)
Summary: Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian's, 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 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.
My thoughts: Honestly, I was a little skeptical of Saving Francesca. It seems a bit ambitious to combine normal high school stuff and such a serious issue like depression without dragging the story down a lot or making it seem unrealistically light. But Saving Francesca was surprisingly deep and realistic and even somewhat light. It was one of those rare books with a message that doesn't focus too solely on one issue. I really grew to love the characters, of course, especially Francesca. The writing was great--not awe-worthy, but it made me think and it was very fitting. And the plot, while not really fast-paced, was quick enough to keep me interested without rushing too much.
I really loved Francesca. She was witty and intelligently written, without having to dumb down the rest of the characters to seem smart. Her self-discovery was poignant and I couldn't help but feel every one of her emotions. I liked the way Marchetta wrote her mother, too. She was realistic and Francesca's response to her depression was realistic also. It was a delicate, not easily balanced story line, but it worked really well, and I felt like I was struggling to come to term with all of the changes in Francesca's life right along side her.
Okay, so, yes, there was a boy, and yes, he was cute, and yes, I inadvertently fell in love with him a little bit. And there was also Will, Francesca's actual love interest. Maybe I was the only one, but I really loved Thomas, who, was totally inappropriate and immature but also adorably hilarious. But I won't get into all of that; I really liked Will's and Francesca's relationship, too. They were cute in that we-hate-each-other-but-secretly-love-each-other way. But without being too over-the-top. I loved that their relationship had lots of bumps in the road too, seeing as how that made them all the more exciting when they were together.
I think my favorite aspect of the book might have been Francesca and her little brother's relationship. It was sweet and honest. But I also really loved the way Francesca and all of her girlfriends got along. They were some of the most oddly-matched and unlikely groupings of girls, but it worked and I really cared about all of them.
The writing was interesting in a good way. I liked the simplicity of it, which didn't take away from the story line at all, but added an extra personal touch which made me feel closer to Francesca and allowed me to put myself in her place. The story, which was medium-paced, was great and simple and in the end, it kind of felt like I had just peeked into the lives of a few people living ordinary (or not-so) lives. The book had a melancholic feel and I'll definitely be looking for more by Marchetta. It was a meaningful, fun read.
Covering the Cover: I really love this cover. It's cute and gives a good feel to the book even before cracking it open.
Writing: 4/5Overall Rating: 4 stars