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Saving Francesca.

By: Marchetta, Melina, 1965-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: Camberwell, Vic. : Penguin Books Australia, 2003ISBN: 0-670-04045-2.Subject(s): Premiers' Reading Challenge : 9-10
Item type Current location Collection Call number Status Date due Barcode Item reserves
Junior Sydenham Library (DIY)
Teenage Fiction T MARC Available I6142266
Total reserves: 0

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

Chapter 1 This morning, my mother didn't get out of bed. It meant I didn't have to go through one of her daily pep talks which usually begin with a song that she puts on at 6.45 every morning. It's mostly 70s and 80s retro crap, anything from 'I Will Survive' to some woman called Kate Bush singing, 'Don't Give Up'. When I question her choices she says they're random, but I know that they are subliminal techniques designed to motivate me into being just like her. But this morning there is no song. There is no advice on how to make friends with the bold and the interesting. No twelve point plan on the best way to make a name for myself in a hostile environment. No motivational messages stuck on my mirror urging me to do something that scares me every day. There's just silence. And for the first time all year I go to school and my only agenda is to get to 3.15. School is St Sebastian's in the city. It's a predominately all-boys' school that has opened its doors to girls in Year Eleven for the first time ever. My old school, St Stella's, only goes to Year Ten and most of my friends now go to Pius Senior College, but my mother wouldn't allow it because she says the girls there leave with limited options and she didn't bring me up to have limitations placed upon me. If you know my mother, you'll sense there's an irony there, based on the fact that she is the Queen of the Limitation Placers in my life. My brother, Luca, is in Year Five at Sebastian's so my mother figured it would be convenient for all of us in the long run and my dad goes along with it because no one in my family has ever pretended that my mother doesn't make all the decisions. There are thirty of us girls at Sebastian's and I want so much not to do the teenage angst thing, but I have to tell you that I hate the life that, according to my mother, I'm not actually having. It's like this. Girls just don't belong at St Sebastian's. We belong in schools that were built especially for us, or in co-ed schools. St Sebastian's pretends it's co-ed by giving us our own toilet. The rest of the place is all male and I know what you're thinking if you're a girl. What a dream come true, right? Seven hundred and fifty boys and thirty girls? But the reality is that it's either like living in a fish bowl or like you don't exist. Then, on top of that, you have to make a whole new group of friends after being in a comfortable little niche for four years. At Stella's, you turned up to school, knew exactly what your group's role and profile was, and the day was a blend of all you found comfortable. My mother calls that complacency but whatever it's called, I miss it like hell. Here, at Sebastian's, after a term of being together, the girls haven't really moved on in the sorority department. I don't exactly have friends as much as ex-Stella girls I hang around with who I had barely exchanged a word with over the last four years. Justine Kalinsky, for example, came to Stella's in Year Eight and never actually seemed to make any friends there. She plays the piano accordion. There's also Siobhan Sullivan, who uses us as a disembarkation point for when one of the guys calls her over. In Year Seven, for a term, Siobhan and I were the most hysterical of friends because we were the only ones who wanted to gallop around the playground like horses while the rest of the Stella girls sat around in semi-circles being young ladies. Most of our free time was spent making up dance moves to Kylie songs in our bedrooms and performing them in the playground until someone pointed out that we were showing off. My group found me just after that, thank God, and I never really spoke to Siobhan Sullivan again. My friends always told me they wanted to rescue me from Siobhan and I relished being saved because it meant that people stopped tapping me on the shoulder to point out what I was doing wrong. Tara Finke hangs out with us as well. She was the resident Stella psycho, full of feminist, communist, anythingist rhetoric, and if there is one thing I've noticed around here, it's that Sebastian boys don't like speeches. Especially not from us girls. They'd actually be very happy if we never opened our mouths at all. Tara's already been called a lesbian because that's how the Sebastian boys deal with any girl who has an opinion, and because there are only four ex-Stella girls, I assume the rest of us get called the same thing. I could get all politically correct here and say that there's nothing wrong with being called a lesbian, but it all comes down to being labelled something that you're not. Tara Finke thinks she's going to be able to set up a women's movement at the school, but girls run for miles when they see her coming. The girls from St Perpetua's, another Year Seven to Ten school, make up the bulk of the female students. They don't want to get involved with Tara and her movement because their mothers have taught them to go with the flow, which I personally think is the best advice anyone can get. My mother is a different story. She's a Communications lecturer at UTS and her students think she's the coolest thing around. But they don't have to put up with her outbursts or her inability to let anything go. If it's not an argument with the guy at the bank who pushed in front of us, it'll be questioning the rude tone of some service industry person over the phone. She's complained to personnel at our local supermarket so many times about the service that I'm sure they have photos of my family at the door with instructions to never let us in. Every day I come home from St Sebastian's and my mother asks me if I've addressed the issue of the toilets, or the situation with subject selection or girls' sport. Or if I've made new friends, or if there's a guy there that I'm interested in. And every afternoon I mumble a 'no' and she looks at me with great disappointment and says, 'Frankie, what happened to the little girl who sang "Dancing Queen" at the Year Six Graduation night?' I'm not quite sure what wearing a white pants suit and boots, belting out an Abba hit has to do with liberating the girls of St Sebastian's, but somehow my mother makes the connection. So I come home ready to mumble my 'no' again. Ready for the look, the lecture, the unexpected analogies and the disappointment. But she's still in bed. Luca and I wait for my dad at the front door because my mother never stays in bed, even if she has a temperature over 40 degrees. But today the Mia we all know disappears and she becomes someone with nothing to say. Someone a bit like me. Excerpted from Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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.

Booklist Review

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 ┬ęKirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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