Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
"Although this involving novel is set in the author's native Australia, American readers will feel right at home, thanks to the charismatic, outspoken 17-year-old narrator," said PW. Ages 12-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9-12-Melina Marchetta's novel (Orchard, 1999) is an insightful portrait of an intense yet humorous young person. Though illegitimate, the 17-year-old Australian protagonist, Josephine Alibrandi, is a universally recognizable teen wrestling with many of the same worries that assail all high school students. Josie copes with the usual concerns about boys, friends, and where she fits in as a scholarship student at a Catholic school in a Sydney suburb. At the same time that she is trying to sort out complex relationships with her tradition-bound grandmother and her warm, no-nonsense mother, she is confronting her long-absent father. This is a deftly crafted story, and the characters have the ring of reality in their dialogue and actions. Marcella Russo's narration is equally fine, with each character distinctive. She conveys a special piquancy in the accented speech of the immigrant grandmother. Chapter and cassette breaks are underscored with light, jazzy music. This audiobook is a solid selection for any young adult literature list, and a must buy for libraries where teens borrow audiobooks.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library. Rocky Hill, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 8^-10. Even though she was born in Sydney and has lived there all her life, Josie Alibrandi is torn between her Italian heritage and her desire to be considered an Aussie. Nor does she feel part of the core community at St. Margaret's School, which she attends as a scholarship student. There may not seem much joy in the life of this teen who is hassled by her tyrannical grandmother as well as the socially prominent types at school. The prejudice both within her extended family and the Italian Australian community against her unwed mother angers Josie. Then her long-absent father appears on the scene, and a series of developments unfolds that helps her navigate through family secrets, boyfriend and girlfriend relationships, mother-daughter battles, career opportunities, and school realities. It's not that Dad is her savior or that Josie would not have triumphed without him, it's just that he almost inadvertently helps her see herself in new ways. What emerges from this delightful first-person narrative is a strong, fresh, adolescent female voice; Josie's character and coming-of-age will hold and stay with the reader. Lively, well-drawn characters and realistic teen concerns and situations should bridge the continental gap for American readers. --Anne O'Malley
Horn Book Review
Josephine Alibrandi knows well that appearances, and public perceptions, can be deceiving. This point is cleverly illustrated by the novel's opening scene, in which Josephine panics over a multiple-choice question. The reader immediately senses the dilemma of a serious yet struggling student-until Sister Gregory appears at Josie's desk and confiscates the Hot Pants magazine friendship quiz. Josie is, in fact, an excellent student, but despite her academic standing and solid group of friends, she still sees herself as an outsider. Raised in a traditional Italian community on the outskirts of Sydney, Josie is bound by rules of behavior that her ""Aussie"" friends and classmates can't possibly understand. In both communities, she has also had to endure whisperings-and worse-about the circumstances of her birth, and Josie has never wanted to know the man who left her mother alone seventeen years earlier. Until, of course, he reappears. After some initial sniping, Josie and her father develop a refreshingly real friend-ship based on their many common traits, including their well-matched stubborn streaks. Josie's fiery spirit brings on inevitable clashes with her new boyfriend as well, but also helps her survive the death of a close friend. This is a quintessential girl book, and adolescent readers will relish the friendships, rival-ries, and romance-as well as the thrilling bits of rebellion (Josie and her friends cut school to chase down a rock star and have the horrible luck of being caught on a TV camera). Josie is a passionate young woman whose high ideals and love for life cannot help but infect those around her, just as they are sure to affect the reader. This U.S. edition of an Australian novel admirably retains many Australian terms and phrases, allowing both characters and setting to retain their distinct personalities-and giving due credit to its young adult audience. l.a. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
In this Australian import, Marchetta gets the voice of teenage angst just right in a hormone saturated coming-of-age story. Josephine Alibrandi, 17 and of Italian descent, is torn between her traditional upbringing, embodied by both her immigrant grandmother and her overprotective mother, and the norms of teenage society. A scholarship student at an esteemed Catholic girls' school, she struggles with feelings of inferiority not only because she's poorer than the other students and an ``ethnic,'' but because her mother never married. These feelings are intensified when her father, whom she's just met, enters and gradually becomes part of her life. As Josephine struggles to weave the disparate strands of her character into a cohesive tapestry of self, she discovers some unsavory family secrets, falls in love for the first time, copes with a friend's suicide, and goes from being a follower to a leader. Although somewhat repetitive and overlong, this is a tender, convincing portrayal of a girl's bumpy ride through late adolescence. Some of the Australian expressions may be unfamiliar to US readers, but the emotions translate perfectly. (Fiction. 13-15)