Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
In a starred review, PW wrote, "Sixteen-year-old Francesca's compelling voice will carry readers along during a transitional year in her family and school life." Ages 12-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9-12-In her second young adult novel, Australian author Melina Marchetta creates a compelling teen girl character conflicted by her mother's deep clinical depression and her own adjustment to a new, previously all boys school. As in Marchetta's Looking for Alibrandi (Orchard, 1999), the themes and motifs here include the main character's status as being one generation removed from the immigrant Italian community. Francesca is not only a very believable 16-year-old, but the demands on her given her family's difficulties and her friends' attempts to deal with changes in their social milieu are ones that American teens will understand and empathize with readily. Marchetta sees the vanities of some adults as occasions for humor as well as distrust on the part of insightful teens. Rebecca Macauley's light accent is readily understandable, and she provides a variety of voices for Francesca, her beleaguered father, her little brother, and her female and male friends. There is enough romance here to make the story appealing to those interested more in such relationships than in the equally well-treated complexity of parent and teen relationships. Francesca grows through the story's development from a girl who knows only how to emulate others to one who is willing to admit that she has her own needs and ideas. The print version will be available in the U.S. this fall.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 8-10. Australian author Marchetta's novel begins with high-school junior Francesca lamenting her transfer to the newly coed St. Sebastian's school. Her dynamic mother, Mia, has nudged Francesca there to wean her from her soul-sucking friends, but the girls are nerds, and the boys are obsessed with bodily functions. Then, the unthinkable happens. Mia, the strong center of the family, sinks into depression, causing Francesca's world to spin out of control. Marchetta has a winning way with both teen and adult characters, individualizing them and showing their evolution. Even better is Francesca's honest, incisive voice, which culls universal emotions from a distinctly Australian setting. The story's linchpin, Mia's depression, is not well handled; Mia is apparently never offered real help. Antidepressants are mentioned, but Dad doesn't want Mia on drugs; therapy is barely touched upon. Eventually, this inattention to obvious solutions becomes distracting. Keeping Mia sick to allow Francesca's story to run its course doesn't work, but this flaw aside, teens will find the novel a realistic, satisfying reflection of their lives. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2004 Booklist
Horn Book Review
(High School) Australian author Marchetta proves her craft in this fresh, funny, and heartfelt portrait of a teenage girl coping with her mother's acute depression as well as with a new school. Francesca is a bit relieved the first day her mother stays in bed -- no 6:45 a.m. motivational song; no note on the mirror challenging her to do something that scares her -- but things begin to fall apart as the force of Mia's illness hits her family. Still, Francesca perseveres despite her worries, pursuing new interests and friendships that are truly unexpected. The few girls at school (there are only thirty among the 750 boys at St. Sebastian's) are so hopeless and the boys act like such jerks (burping and farting are favorite pastimes) that we are as surprised as Francesca when they turn out to be such terrific friends -- and when she falls in love with ""stick-in-the-mud moron"" Will Trombal. As in Looking for Alibrandi (rev. 5/99), Marchetta creates solid, three-dimensional characters and displays an outstanding ear for dialogue, sometimes touching, often funny. She pieces all the bits of her protagonist's life together so smoothly that the novel never feels contrived. In the course of this very trying year Francesca discovers the best in herself, and, like her family and friends, we can't help but like her so very much. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Book Review
Sparkling dialogue and engaging characters make this Australian import a pleasure to read. Sixteen-year-old Francesca flounders when she transfers reluctantly to a previously all-boys school at the same time that her mother goes into a depression. Without her former repressive clique and her mother's boisterous love, Francesca has to forge her own sense of herself after years of feeling safely invisible. In the process, she makes friends with unconventional girls she'd rejected at her old school, and gauche but ultimately kind boys, one of whom becomes a romantic interest. Hilarious scenes characterize the girls' and boys' adjustments to a co-ed school, a fully drawn setting clearly informed by the author's experience as a teacher. Meanwhile, Francesca struggles with her mother's depression and comes to better understand her stalwart but distressed father. Marchetta juggles her many characters deftly, infusing the teens and adults with depth and individuality. Francesca's messy, credible array of emotions and problems will keep readers absorbed to the last, satisfying line. (Fiction. 13+) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.