Author: Melina Marchetta
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Francesca is stuck at
St. Sebastians, a boys' school that's pretends it's coed by giving the
girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an
ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an 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,
along, and without an inkling 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. [Goodreads]
This is one of those times I'm supremely grateful for the friends I have on Goodreads, because I very nearly passed this over without a second thought until I saw the four and five star ratings people whose recs I trust gave it. On the surface, there doesn't seem to be too much to this book; Francesca is in one of the first girl classes at a formerly all-boys boarding school. Yawn, right?
Saving Francesca turned out to be so much more beautiful and intricate than that.
The boarding school and Francesca's struggles within are the supporting players to the turmoil, the loneliness, the sadness and occasional happiness she finds. I don't suffer from depression and I don't know anyone who has had a breakdown the way Francesca's mother has, but I found I could truly understand what she was going through. I could almost relate, I could sympathize, I was right there with her every step of the way, and it made the normal teenage things -- the crush, the new friends, finding out who she truly is -- feel so much more than the sum of their parts.
And sad as it may be at times, it never drags you down into the depths, but instead shows you enough of a glimpse to understand what it's like.
This is a gorgeous novel, one I would highly recommend to anyone. After reading On the Jellicoe Road last month and having finished Saving Francesca, Melina Marchetta has become one of my favorite YA authors. I'll be reading everything of hers I can get my hands on.