Title: Looking for Alibrandi
Author: Melina Marchetta
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Book to Film, Contemporary, Family, Young adult
Dates read: 23rd – 24th September 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘I can look after myself,’ I argued as I followed her into the house.
And what’s this about you and your friends driving around Bondi Junction half-dressed last week?’
‘Who told you that?’
‘Signora Formosa saw you. She said you and your friends almost ran her over. She rang Zia Patrizia’s next-door neighbour and it got back to Nonna.’
Telecom would go broke if it weren’t for the Italians.
Josephine Alibrandi is seventeen, illegitimate, and in her final year at a wealthy Catholic school. This is the year her father comes back into her life, the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family’s past and the year she sets herself free.
I’ll run one day. Run for my life. To be free and think for myself. Not as an Australian and not as an Italian and not as an in between. I’ll run to be emancipated.
This book is amazing! Ground shakingly, life-changingly amazing. Which shouldn’t surprise me. Since I felt that way about the movie when I first saw it as a teenager. After all, it’s about a young Australian girl who is just trying to find where she belongs in the world. Trying to fit in amongst racism and parental expectations. Trying to understand the past and find a way towards a new future. All things that we struggle with ourselves, just with different pressures.
There is so much pressure put on students who are studying year 12. Stupid amounts. I remember my year 12 year, we were all told to put all relationships on hold and just study. That is not a sane, safe or reasonable thing to ask anyone. Let alone a teenager. Josie’s story encompasses that year and the pressures that we all feel about our future, our choices and the external requirements people place on us perfectly. Her sarcastic, attitudinal teenage voice carries the message better than any other story would – and make it far more relatable for someone like me, who was a highly attitudinal teenager.
The relationships in this story are intense. And real. And, when bad things happen, heartbreaking. Enough so that I started weeping in the car. In the middle of summer. With my partner looking on in total confusion. Marchetta manages to create characters that you knew in high school. Dynamics that you too had, even if they were people of a slightly different socioeconomic group, or background. From that moment of first falling in love to letting go of the crush you always had, to seeing the “mean girl” as just another real person… she manages to show the growth and change that we all went through at such an important time in our lives.
Australia is known as a multicultural country, but it’s not always so accepting. Marchetta helps to bring this to life, not only in Josie’s experiences, but the tales of her mother and grandmother. Interweaving three generations of strong women into one story and showing the importance of family takes you on a fantastic journey. Not only through Australia’s cultural past, but also in the making of Josie Alibrandi and bringing all three women full circle to who they are today. And oh, my beating heart… now I just want to read this amazing novel all over again…
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