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Saving Francesca (2003)

by Melina Marchetta

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Salvation (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,3077310,620 (4.09)44
Sixteen-year-old Francesca could use her outspoken mother's help with the problems of being one of a handful of girls at a parochial school that has just turned co-ed, but her mother has suddenly become severely depressed.
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English (70)  German (1)  All languages (71)
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
This was one of my favorite books in middle school and high school. It is not “high class literature” but it does a good job of teaching life lessons while fitting into the young adult genre. It is the story of a high schooler, Francesca, who tries to navigate life as her mother suffers a major depressive episode. It is terrifying in how raw it is, and the relationships and friendships displayed in the novel. One of the few books that I really believe gave a deeper understanding of what it means to be a friend and a daughter. ( )
  dafnab | Oct 21, 2020 |
Advance copy. ( )
  ME_Dictionary | Mar 19, 2020 |
This book DESTROYS ME, every time. And I love it so much.

I love Francesca. I love Justine. I love Tara and Siobhan and Will and Thomas and Jimmy. I love Mia and Luca and Rob.

I love the conversations that sound like real people talking, like me and my high school friends. Like the schoolkids I overhear in the street now.

This book deserves ALL OF THE LOVE. ( )
  a-shelf-apart | Nov 19, 2019 |
“And when I finish speaking, I kiss her cheek and I take away the tray. And it’s empty. That’s how we begin.”

The “Young Adult” genre and I rarely get along. Call it a generation gap, I suppose, because, let’s face it, at 43 I’m not really the target audience of YA anymore. In fact, my very first note about this book was “I don't feel like reading about school girls”.

And, yet, there are some YA books that still appeal to me, e. g. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. “Francesca” – like many books recently – somehow ended up on my “to be read” list and when it was their time, I had long forgotten why I wanted to read this. Encouraged by wife (hey, C.!) who had just finished reading it, I just jumped into it.

The story is pretty simple: Francesca Spinelli is the daughter of a mother with an academic background and profession and a father who works as a builder. Finally, there’s Francesca’s younger brother, Luca. Francesca, just having switched schools, is still getting used to her new school and finding new friends, while protecting her little brother as well.

As if that wasn’t enough, her mother suffers a crippling bout of depression and mostly doesn’t get out of bed anymore. Complicating things even more, there’s a guy who actually turns out not only to be very decent but also interested in Francesca.

None of this is very original and we’ve seen such stuff on television and read it in other books. “Saving Francesca”, though, has the virtue of being disarmingly honest about its heroine and the other people in her life. There are no princes (or princesses!) who “save the day”. Just like “the rest of us” life doesn’t only hand Francesca roses but she has to work hard.

At least at the beginning, you feel with Francesca when she tells us how she made it through yet another day. She doesn’t hide anything from the reader and is completely honest about how (bad) she feels but even though sometimes not wanting to get up herself, she refuses to give up and works her way back up again.

Francesca’s friends are the kind we all wish we’d had (or we wish our for our children!): They’re around when Francesca really needs them and make it better, albeit not easier, for her.

This book is not “hard to devour”; originally, I believed it was so popular because it’s uplifting and “easy to digest”. Fast food literature.

I was right and wrong because, yes, this book is ultimately uplifting and inspires hope. It’s not Tolstoi either and, thus, not hard to read. It’s never shallow either, though, but a testament to a literary genre that has merits beyond the literary ones and that is sometimes too easily dismissed.

It doesn’t always have to be War and Peace, after all, but smaller and yet no less enjoyable witticisms make this book very appealing:

“‘You’re judging her by her literacy,’ Tara says. ‘You’re a literacist.’”

“Saving Francesca” and especially its ending, really moved me emotionally and made me rethink my stance on an entire literary genre – if a book can do that, it certainly deserves a place within my favourites – and maybe yours?

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  philantrop | Jun 10, 2019 |
When I first started reading this one I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. Francesca just came off as annoying, spoiled and bratty, but as the story went on I came to really love and root for her. It's a beautiful coming of age story that touches on depression, friendships, mother daughter relationship and first love. I think every high school girl should read it! Francesca learns that its ok to be who you really want to be and that you will find people who love and care about you for who you are instead of conforming to what other people want you to become. Definitely better than I was expecting and I'm so glad I read it! ( )
  KeriLynneD | Mar 23, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Melina Marchettaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Macauley, RebeccaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Luca
the St Mary's Cathedral College boys
... and for the girls there, too...
First words
This morning, my mother didn't get out of bed.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Sixteen-year-old Francesca could use her outspoken mother's help with the problems of being one of a handful of girls at a parochial school that has just turned co-ed, but her mother has suddenly become severely depressed.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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