So. Here's the thing. Melina Marchetta is one of my all-time favourite authors. She is my idol. But I've only ever read two of her books. I KNOW. But I have an excuse! Kind of. You see, for the majority of my teen years, Looking for Alibrandi was the only Marchetta available. I adored it. Obsessed over it. Reread it at least once a year (and often more frequently). I identified so strongly with Josie, and felt like this book just got me in so many ways. It was a cherished friend (and is still one of my favourite books, BTW). I longed for Marchetta to write more, so I could devour fresh words of wisdom and realism. Then Saving Francesca came out. I was 17 and... kinda disappointed.
I liked it, don't get me wrong. I liked it a lot. But I just didn't have the same connection to Frankie that I had with Josie. My subsequent wariness, and the fact that I grew out of Young Adult books for a little while (or thought I had, at least!), meant that I didn't rush to pick up the books Marchetta released in the following years. Then, thanks to a friend thrusting The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants on me, I rediscovered how awesome YA could be. I started blogging, and read countless reviews and comments on the amazingness of Marchetta's other works - some even said they were better than Alibrandi. Big. Call.
Needless to say, The Piper's Son, On The Jellicoe Road and Finnikin of the Rock quickly joined my ever-growing TBR pile. My plan was to reread Saving Francesca before tackling The Piper's Son, then on to Jellicoe Road before finally diving into Finnikin. The hitch in this plan was that every time I picked up Francesca, I couldn't bring myself to read it. Not because of my first experience with it (because I had actually really liked it), but because I knew it touched upon issues that had recently become a very sensitive subject for me. I was afraid of how it would make me feel.
Then last week, I did something that I am both incredibly excited and extremely nervous about: I signed up for a writing course taught by Marchetta. I am more excited than nervous, actually. I'm downright ecstatic. But the reason I mention it here is because it gave me the kick up the butt I needed to finally get over my fear of Francesca - or, at least, that fear was eclipsed by a frenzied desire to absorb every word Marchetta had ever written ASAP.
I'm so, so glad I reread it. Because Francesca, of course, is absolutely amazing. The very reason I was afraid to pick it up (recent personal experiences) meant that I was able to appreciate it - and yes, connect with it - in a new and powerful way that I couldn't as a teenager. It's not an easy read (though it's beautifully written); Francesca's sadness, and her mum's depression, permeate the book. But it deals with the issue in such a tender, realistic and ultimately hopeful way that, by the time I turned the last page, I actually felt a lot better than I had before I picked it up. Like Alibrandi before her, Francesca touched upon so many aspects that were completely relevant to my life, and made me feel good about them. As though I wasn't alone. My feelings for Francesca might just be on par with my love of Alibrandi. Which is really saying something.
The Piper's Son, here I come.
|Caitlin Stasey as Francesca|
|James Sorensen as Will|
|Xenia Goodwin as Justine|
|Alicia Banit as Siobhan|
|Khan Chittenden as Jimmy|
Genre: Young Adult
Published: 2003, Viking
Get It: Better World Books