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 of 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.
Melina Marchetta is the Printz-winning author of Jellicoe Road, as well as Looking for Alibrandi and Finnikin of the Rock.
*Wipes tears* This author gets me every time.
Okay, twice. She got me twice. I’ve read two of her books. But that only means there’s more of her brilliance to enjoy…
Saving Francesca is a very touching and gentle read that centers not only on common themes such as family, friendship, and love—but thoroughly explores the heartaches of depression and the toll it can take on a family as a whole.
I’ve read many books where the narrator/main protagonist suffers a mental disorder. We get close to the disease…so close we are able to physically feel its anxiety.
But in this case, we’re offered the perspective of a high school girl whose mother has fallen into the dark depths of this illness. And although we’re presented with a solid picture of all sides, the focus refreshingly lies on Francesca (as well as her father and younger brother) and how she finds herself through the cloud of her mother’s depression.
Tragically enough, the results on all parties involved are quite similar…
I want to go around the neighborhood saying, “We’re depressed.” If my mum can’t get out of bed in the morning, all of us feel the same. Her silence has become ours, and it’s eating us alive.
Yes, most families will crash and burn together…but they can also rise together, stronger because they’ve faced such weaknesses.
So Francesca may need some “saving”, but she’s not the only one. And I loved watching her character evolve and surpass the limitations she unknowingly places upon herself.
Much of this story takes place at a new school, consisting of mostly boys, where Francesca is attending. She misses her “popular” friends and the fact that they were the ones who did most of her thinking for her.
Francesca is a complex and memorable character. She pretends to be shy, but she’s not. It’s just easier to not have the spot light on her. However, the quirky friends she reluctantly makes at her new school may be exactly what she needs to bring her back to life.
The “romance” in this book felt more like an insinuation: Gentle, slow-to-build, but very sweet and promising. However, this is not a romance novel.
Melina Marchetta’s writing absolutely astounds me. It’s witty and profound, and glides with an effortless rhythm that made me stop and whisper “wow” a few times. The characters she creates are extremely unique. I found myself growing surprised by how life-like they felt.
There were some scenes that felt too vague and other areas that may have been a teensy bit dragged out — which may work well for some, depending on your preference.
As a whole, this book is a breathe of fresh air…a shaky breath at times, but quite satisfying and refreshing nonetheless!
“What is this, Grand Central Station?”
▪ Genre/Category: Young Adult/Contemporary
▪ Steam Caliber: Teenage kisses
▪ Romance: Sweet and gentle
▪ Characters: Well drawn out and lovable
▪ Plot: A teenaged girl must figure how to live and find herself in the cloud of her mother’s depression.
▪ Writing: Simply beautiful. Poetic and witty.
▪ POV: 1st Person: Heroine
▪ Cliffhanger: None. May be read as a standalone.
▪ Next Installment: Secondary character spin off. (5 years later)