Friday, August 26, 2016

saving francesca: stardust reviews

Saving Francesca
Melina Marchetta



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.

A compelling story of romance, family, and friendship with humor and heart, perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Lauren Myracle.

full review under the cut!

Gather around children! Let me tell you the story of how Melina Marchetta became the ultimate queen of YA. It all started a few years ago when I read the most wonderful book. It was called Jellicoe Road, and it absolutely changed my life. I found this method of storytelling so effective, so evocative, and I just knew that it would go down in history as being one of my favorite books ever. Then, as time passed, I felt a Marchetta-sized hole growing in my heart. And I struck out and found Finnikin of the Rock. Now, you can imagine what I was thinking. SURELY there is no way that Melina Marchetta could write fantasy as incredibly as she writes contemporary. Alas, I was proven wrong because SHE CAN. Finnikin is the most kick-ass story ever, and my love for Marchetta grew.

And now we find ourselves here. I stand on the precipice of yet another Marchetta book. This one called Saving Francesca, and I'm nervous. I want to love it as much as I love the others, and I've heard good things, but can it measure up? And I am here to tell you. It can. And why does this make Marchetta the queen of YA? Plenty of writers skip from fantasy to contemporary with success. Well, let me tell you. There is something so distinctly human about Marchetta's writing. Something that reaches into you and pulls. In Jellicoe, it was loss, moving on, and figuring out who you are. In Finnikin, it is bravery, love, justice, and the power of having a home. In Francesca, it is mental illness, dealing with change, loving family, and holding yourself together. All three books made me cry. All three books changed the way I look at something. And all three books are put together with the utmost care. This is why Marchetta is the queen of YA. But that's a lot of talk about all three of the books that I've read. Let's just sit down and talk specifically about Saving Francesca.

This book is about a girl called Francesca Spinelli. Her troubles begin when she has to move schools. Instead of going the normal route with most of her friends, her parents put her in a school that, until very recently, was all boys. The high ratio of boys to girls makes things difficult for the few famles that attend, and Francesca is less than pleased about being separated from her friends. But her larger-than-life mother has a few ideas about who Francesca is supposed to be, and though Francesca doesn't like it, she's stuck. Until one morning, her mother doesn't get out of bed. What happens next is that Francesca's mom falls into an acute depression, and the entire family begins falling apart. As Francesca tries desperately to keep her family together, she also has to attend a school she despises, with zero friends to help her out. She also strives to fit in, tamping down anything in her that may make her stand out too much. It's, above all, a coming of age story in which Francesca has to go about finding her place, finding out who she really is, and finding those that accept her, but it also deals very seriously with mental illness and family dynamics. They're balanced rather beautifully, and I just felt so emotional and loving towards all of the characters.

ALSO! I just want to say that the SQUAD GOALS in this book are real. Francesca, Justine, Siobhan, Tara, Thomas and Jimmy are so adorable and I just want to be friends with them all. I loved how the relationships were at first just because of convenience. The girls banded together because there are so few of them. But the true friendships developed slowly, with the kids getting to know each other over time. I loved how they were unconditionally just there for each other, no matter what. I also loved how Francesca had never really had true friends before, and every time she doubted them or herself, they totally proved her wrong. GAH its just such a good representation of how finding the right people can make you so happy, and when you find friends like that, they don't abandon you.

I also really loved the romance. I liked it probably even more because it wasn't the focal point of the novel. It's kind of just there in the background. Will and Francesca have a connection from the start, but there's a "I hate you, I love you," slow burn, mistakes are made type of relationship, and I just really appreciated it. I loved how Francesca didn't get to be with Will until she had figured a few things out about herself, because I just think that's healthy. I love how they bring out the nerd and weirdness in each other. I loved the kiss at the party. I absolutely loved the Italian grandmothers feuding. It was all just SO! GOOD!

And, like I said, this book deals with depression and family in a very candid way. It faces these issues head on, and the way Marchetta writes it is just amazing. It highlights the unfairness of a sixteen year old trying to hold her family together, the helplessness that she feels in doing so, and the triumph that comes from small victories. I love Francesca's strength and how it grows throughout the novel.

Long story short, this book is just heartwrenching and beautiful and GREAT and you should def read it.



  1. I loved her Finnikin of the Rock series so much but I have yet to read any of her contemporary books because I was honestly afraid that they won't live up to her fantasy. I'm so glad you're saying otherwise though! Now I just need to choose which one to start with haha...

    Great review!

    1. It might be different for me because I read her contemporary first, but I absolutely love both sides of her! they're very different, but equally as amazing :) it's difficult because I think I may love Jellicoe Road a *little* bit more, but saving francesca is a lot quicker and more fun. they're all great!


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