Saving Francesca

Saving Francesca

by Melina Marchetta


Most of my friends now go to Pius Senior College, but my mother wouldn’t allow it because she says the girls there leave with limited options and she didn’t bring me up to have limitations placed upon me. If you know my mother, you’ll sense there’s an irony there, based on the fact that she is the Queen of the Limitation Placers in my life.
Francesca battles her mother, Mia, constantly over what’s best for her. All Francesca wants is her old friends and her old school, but instead Mia sends her to St. Sebastian’s, an all-boys’ school that has just opened its doors to girls. Now Francesca’s surrounded by hundreds of boys, with only a few other girls for company. All of them weirdos—or worse.

Then one day, Mia is too depressed to get out of bed. One day turns into months, and as her family begins to fall apart, Francesca realizes that without her mother’s high spirits, she hardly knows who she is. But she doesn’t yet realize that she’s more like Mia than she thinks. With a little unlikely help from St. Sebastian’s, she just might be able to save her family, her friends, and—especially—herself.

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I don’t know what to think about this book, maybe the problem is that I read “On the Jellicoe Road” just before this one and that’s the reason I didn’t enjoy it that much. (when your mind is blown by a story, it is hard to jump right into another one)

I can’t believe I said it out loud. The truth doesn’t set you free, you know. It makes you feel awkward and embarrassed and defenseless and red in the face and horrified and petrified and vulnerable. But free? I don’t feel free. I feel like shit.

The story is nice, the writing is wonderful, but there were some things that bothered me a bit about it:

#1 The title: it felt somehow wrong, or at least I think so.
I didn’t see this as a story about saving Francesca.. maybe ‘Saving Mia’ would have been a better title, but the book wasn’t even about that.
What was Francesca’s problem anyway?
Not being popular? It was her choice.
Not having friends? I think she managed that really well by the middle of the book.
Not knowing what to do with her mother? She didn’t know even at the end.
I won’t even mention her love interest because that only gets me to the point #3.
So why ‘saving Francesca’?

#2 Mia: Well, her family never did a single thing to make her feel better. They didn’t know how to deal with someone suffering from depression, they were just there, waiting for her to get better on her own.. She was such an important character in this story, but also she seemed like she was not important at all. By the end I didn’t even care if she was feeling better or not, I’ve lost my interest in her long ago because Francesca made me lose it.

#3 The ‘romance wanna be’… In the beginning Will is present just everywhere (at school, at home, Francesca is about to be obsessed with him), and then after the kiss(es) he vanishes for like half of the book (he is present only in her thoughts.. a lot – what is a teenager without a ‘boy obsession’ right? ) and at the end Francesca is so hurt that he made some decision without taking her into account like they were lovers since forever. Well let me tell you something: they were not. And kissing someone who likes you doesn’t make him your property.

Another strange thing about the book is.. Jimmy. Not in a bad way, just strange.
I must confess that he was my favorite character in this book, but also I just couldn’t understand him at all. Why all those family visits (what was his real story)? Why was he always there for Francesca? Because he was interested in her? Probably, but we never knew for sure. Maybe he was smart enough to know that he deserved so much better.
Also (and this is something good about him) he was the only one trying to help Mia, and that’s why he gets even more points from me. Funny, supportive and active in this story.
He is the only character that made sense even if I couldn’t understand some of his actions.
So why did Francesca let us feel like he was not important at all?
Nothing that really mattered was taken into consideration, and that annoyed me like hell.

The book is kind of hard to get into, the beginning is really slow.. But the thing that made me keep reading is the style, the writing.. I love it! Melinda has a way with words, she simply gets to your heart when you least expect it. She know how to put feelings into the words, how to show you in between the lines all that’s hidden in someone’s heart, and when she gets to your heart you won’t be able to pull away, you will always come back for more

So the question still remains: did they (or did they not) save Francesca
Maybe we will find in the next one.

Ten years from now…
Will you have played your part?
Will you have carved your mark?

I will definitely reread it someday, and I will try to look at it past these 3 things, because Marchetta writes gorgeously and I think that there was more to this story than what I was able to see at the moment. Again, compared to Jellicoe Road any other book seems to fade into the background.

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