Author: Melina Marchetta
Publish Date: May 9th, 2006
Number of Pages: 243
Genre: YA, Contemporary
A compelling story of romance, family, and friendship with humor and heart, perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Lauren Myracle.
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.
I think I’m in the minority of this book. Lots and lots of people loved it, but I on the other hand, didn’t like nearly as much as I had been expecting it. I definitely enjoyed it but it in no way, measured up to Marchetta’s later book, Jellicoe Road. Friends, if you have been following me for a while, you’ll probably notice that I loved Jellicoe Road. It’s painfully obvious if you read my Top-Ten Tuesday posts. Saving Francesca, while fantastic, was slightly disappointing, to me. I feel like a better decision would have been to read this one before I read Jellicoe Road.
Nevertheless, Saving Francesca had some fantastic qualities.
Characters. I adored the characters in Saving Francesca. They were all just amazing. Francesca was great. She was kind of sarcastic but also confused and very contemplative. I loved Will Tromble, her love interest. Francesca’s crew was beautiful. The way that the girls banded together and how they befriended the few boys that weren’t as sexist was just amazing. I loved the way that Francesca learned what it meant to truly live as yourself, not as what others expect you to be. I loved how she learned to deal with problems, to take control and tell people what was the right way to do things. She learned how to take initiative and do what she believed was right. She grows a lot as a character.
In short, the relationships, development, everything related to the characters, was amazing.
The plot of the book was…. not what I was expecting at all.
A summary in two sentences……
Francesca is starting at a new school and is one of the first thirty girls to attend St. Sebastian’s. She’s lost and trying to find her place while also facing the effects of her mother’s depression.
It was a lot more simple and the plot itself focused more on learning how to find yourself than the other mentioned topics (depression and sexism). Sometimes it came off as mundane. I felt like the concept of depression was kind of skimmed over in order to better describe the other important ideas within the book, although honestly, it might just be me and how I’ve read a lot of books where the limelight is on the mental illness. In this case, while depression is a prominent subject of the book, Marchetta doesn’t really spend more time than necessary talking about Mia’s (her mother) depression.
I liked the portrayal of sexism. It’s a really realistic comparison of how oftentimes traditions can end up becoming the reason that girls are discriminated against. If thirty girls infiltrate a previously all-boys school, somehow, I doubt that they will be so easily accepted. While, female empowerment isn’t really mentioned, I feel that the book did realistically mention the repercussions of the attendance of the girls.
The romance was both good and bad. The two characters had a lot of chemistry but I can’t help but feel like it didn’t have a lot of buildup. I can definitely understand why Marchetta chose to do this (I mean, they’re in a sexist private school where dating the girls in the school is a really bold move.) but I wish there had been some more non-awkward interaction y’know? It’s not exactly insta-love but it could have been really close. I do really like that Will Tromble was the class president though.