Saving Francesca

This is a review of “Saving Francesca” by Melina Marchetta. It is a YA novel, but was easily enjoyable to read as an adult.

Francesca Spinelli has just started at her new school, St Sebastian’s. her former school, an all girls school, doesn’t go up to the senior years. St Sebastian’s has only just started accepting girls. The former all boys school is undergoing their first year with senior female students. Francesca hates it. None of her friends from her previous school have come to St Sebastian’s. She’s stuck with the outcasts. Justine the music geek, Siobhan the ‘slutty’ one, and Tara the psycho feminist. Ugh. It’s like a nightmare. And there’s the boys. Wacky Jimmy Hailler, goofy Thomas Mackee and Will Trombal, who irks her like nobody else.

But school is the least of Francesca’s worries. Her mother Mia has just stopped getting out of bed in the mornings. She has stopped doing everything. She’s stopped being herself. Used to her mother’s enthusiasm and gusto, Francesca doesn’t know what to do.And it appears that neither does anyone else. Not her father, her little brother, other family or Mia’s friends. It’s very frightening, and without Mia, Francesca feels as though she is slowly losing her own identity. She doesn’t know who she is anymore.

Can she rescue her mother? Will life ever go back to the way it was, or will she be fearful forever?

This book really resonated with me.

Like phwoar.

I remember a friend of mine reading this book in high school, and wanting to read it then, but for some reason or other, I never did. I think it’s had more impact on me now, as an adult then it would have had then. I could completely relate to Francesca. My mother was never depressed like her mother Mia was, but boy was life busy. In my final year of school I was so overwhelmed (there were two new babies in our household, and we lived quite a distance from school) and reading the scenes of Francesca in Ms Quinn’s office was like delving into the Pensieve (HP reference there) and looking in on myself at the same age. So many things in this book touched me, and I could relate to so much. Francesca’s fear and complete uncertainty about the future or her own identity, her helplessness when it came to trying to help her mother, the love she held for her brother, and the mixture of feelings she had about her parents. There is one line she says at the end of the book that mirrored an epiphany I once had at around the age of 20, after being heartbroken and stressed and completely strung out. “I think it’s about time I saved myself”. For me it was a time of great fear, upheaval, taking myself away from the familiar and growing up. Really growing up. It was also a time of great change, enlightenment and empowerment. I recommend this book to any woman, but especially to young women.

Favourite lines/quotes:

-When I grow up, I’m going to be my mother.
Francesca Spinelli

-“I think it’s about time I saved myself”.
Francesca Spinelli

Do something that scares you everyday.
Motivational Message from Francesca’s Bathroom Mirror, put there by her mother Mia.


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3 thoughts on “Saving Francesca

  1. Mira says:

    This reminds me of About a Boy, by Nick Hornby, about a boy who is bullied at school and can’t really figure out how to deal with his depressive mother. Despite all this, the book is rather funny. One of my favorite contemporary books!

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