Monday, 11 July 2011

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Looking for Alibrandi
by Melina Marchetta

Summary: For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it’s just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it’s her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn’t be any stricter—but that doesn’t seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.

Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the nononsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josephine is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family’s past—and the year she sets herself free.

Told with unmatched depth and humor, this novel—which swept the pool of Australian literary awards and became a major motion picture—is one to laugh through and cry with, to cherish and remember.
So Melina Marchetta is one of my favourite authors (I’m talking top five, maybe top three) and after reading this book, I think I’ve figured out what it is that I love so much about her books.

There are plenty of authors who can write well, who can be poetic and have an amazing way with words. Loads of authors can create a great story and amazing characters. Melina is one of these authors, but what sets her books apart as being better than most other books is that she brings her stories to life in a way that not many other authors can quite manage.

Normally when I read a book, the family aspect of it can bore me and I find myself wanting to skip through family scenes and interactions to get to the action, romance or friend scenes…but family is a big part of the stories that Melina Marchetta writes (although she has the perfect balance of friendship and romance too) and yet I absolutely adore that when she writes it.

In most books, the family of the main character is just that: family of the main character. The parents are just parents, the siblings just siblings, the other relatives are just relatives…even when they’re written well and I like them, they still never become more than just what they are to the main character. But in this book and all of Melina’s books, she makes all of her characters people in their own right.

Josie’s parents aren’t just her parents, her grandmother is more than just her grandmother - they’re people and they have lives beyond Josie and before her and Melina shows that and makes their story as interesting as Josie’s and weaves it all together in a way that tells three generations worth of stories through the eyes of just one and she does it brilliantly. I finish the book feeling connected to most of the characters, not just the protagonist.

I’ve gushed about my love of Melina Marchetta’s books before, so I don’t need to repeat my adoration of her writing or her stories…and I can’t review this book without just being repetitive or sounding generic or giving spoilers, so I’m not going to try, so I’ll leave this review at that.

I loved this book, it made me angry and happy and sad and I was even bawling my eyes out at one point. It’s not my favourite of her books (Jellicoe Road, closely followed by The Piper’s Son and then Saving Francesca take that place), but I still thought it was amazing and it would make my list of favourite books ever anyway…and that’s saying something, when my least favourite book from an author still makes my all time favourite books list. The book was released in 1993 (I think), and yet it doesn’t feel so dated that it has lost what is great about it.

On another note: there is a movie of the book, very 90's and I actually saw the movie first and really liked it…but I recommend reading the book first. While I loved the book, I would’ve maybe enjoyed it even more if some of the plot twists were a surprise to me (I'm not too fond of some of the cast of the movie after having read the book and it cuts out and changes/rearranges quite a lot but it's still good). Movie trailer:



  1. I've never read anything by Melina Marchetta, but this sounds great! Thanks for posting about it- I just added it to my TBR.

  2. I haven't read this one yet, but I definitely need to, because I adore Marchetta's books (Jellicoe is definitely one of my favourite books ever). Glad you enjoyed this one as well, and I think you make a great point about how family is such a huge part of her books.

  3. What a wonderful review :) I've just read Jellicoe Road(loved it!) but I do own a copy of this one and Saving Francesca.



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