August 15, 2013

Latest Read: Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Here are the basics ...
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
Publication date: May 9, 2006
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Purchased

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. (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts…
The good: Guys, I'm pretty sure Melina Marchetta can do no wrong. I've now read every single one of her contemporary books and next to Jellicoe Road, Looking for Alibrandi is definitely my favorite. I've probably said this before but as much as I love a good tearjerker, there's also something to be said for a book that can make you laugh out loud. And this made me laugh, a lot. Marchetta's writing just has this way of pulling you into her stories. I felt like I was there hearing the main character's voice in my head, seeing what she was seeing and feeling what she was feeling. I think that's why, as hilarious as it was, it's a book that will make you think too because ultimately, this is Josephine Alibrandi's coming-of-age story. She's figuring out who she is, what her family and heritage mean to her and falling in love for the first time.

Josie is the kind of heroine that will stay with you days after you've read about her. She's a bit dramatic (although who isn't at her age?) but she's so open and honest and a total smart-ass. She's not perfect and sometimes she lets her anger get the best of her but there's this intelligence and realistic innocence to her that was so refreshing. But it was her outlook on the relationships with her mother and grandmother that hit me the strongest.

When it came to her mother, I kept thinking -- this was the kind of relationship I wished I had with my mom while growing up. It's better now that I'm older but when I was younger, my mom and I constantly butted heads. We never could just hang out. We didn't talk about boys or go shopping together. I had my friends (and at times, even my dad!) for that instead. Josie and her mom fight too but they talk to one another a lot. Then her grandmother reminded me so much of my own! I love my grandma but she drives me totally insane. Like Josie's, mine is overly concerned with what other people think and is constantly regaling me with stories of when she was a hot young lady. Like ones about how guys would always whistle at her when she walked down the street (yes, seriously). Or how she secretly got married at 18. I understood Josie's frustration with having such strongly opinionated women bringing her up.

But the book also focuses on the men in her life. Three in particular - the reappearance of her father Michael, her friend John and Jacob the guy she finds herself unexpectedly attracted to. If her mom and her grandmother are the constants in her life, it's the men who really shake things up. She's finally building a relationship with the father she never knew (I loved their scenes together!) and neither John nor Jacob are the guys she thought they were. They all turn out to be so much more.

(No) reservations: In case you don't already know, this story takes place in Australia so some words and the high school environment might be unfamiliar to you. 

Do I recommend?: I recommend reading ANYTHING by Melina Marchetta. So if you've already got some of her books on your to-be-read list, make sure to add this one too. 

Happy reading!

6 comments:

  1. I loved Marchetta's Jellicoe Road, but I haven't picked up any of her books since. I guess I'm too scared that they won't live up? But seeing that you adored this one too, looks like I'll have to pick it up soon! I love stories where characters really find themselves and learn who they are. Josie seems like a character I'd really like, but I'm also looking forward to reading about her relationships with her mother and grandmother. I can't wait to get my hands on this! Thanks for the gorgeous review, Rachel!

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  2. I really want to get on the Marchetta train. I've read and LOVED LOVED LOVED Jellicoe Road and I TRIED Finnikin of the Rock, but I just couldn't get into it. I know, slap me silly. I tried it three times by both audio and print, and perhaps it was the timing? So I'm gonna keep trying her out because I KNOW that if everyone else loves her as much as they do, there's something there that I'm missing. Maybe I should read more contemporary before I go to the high fantasy (even though I'm a fantasy junkie). Still, her writing is complicated, and I think that's why I just had a hard time with Finnikin (plus maybe it was just not the right time). I like that you mention this is a funny book because while Jellicoe Road was PERFECT, it wasn't really funny. So this is a different side, ya know? Great review. Thanks!

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  3. I still need to read Jellicoe Road! I do love a book that can make me laugh, haha. Oh, a MC who is honest and a smart-ass?! Sounds like my kinda girl. I'll have to add this to the list. Great review!

    Vi
    Confessions of a Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

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  4. This is a really great review! I read this one earlier this summer, but never wrote anything about it on my blog. Jellicoe Road is still my favorite Marchetta, but I'm definitely impressed by all of her books. I loved Josie's personality and her relationship with her mom. I also liked how important family was in the story. I just wish there was a sequel - the ending was so open-ended!

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  5. I LOVE this book. If you haven't already, pick up the movie. Really gives you the Aussie flavour of the book. I loved Josie's whole thing - personality, relationship struggles, schoolyard... exploits. So glad you liked it, I love it when others like things I like!

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  6. I've only read Jellicoe Road, but you're making such a great case for me to check out the other contemporary Marchetta novels! This sounds like a great story, particularly since Marchetta has a talent for creating real, complex, relatable characters. I cannot wait until I get my hands on this (and Saving Francesca and The Piper's Son)!

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