Retro Friday Reviews are hosted by Angieville and is a weekly feature where you review an older title or highlight an under appreciated book.
You guys, I’ve FINALLY lost my Melina Marchetta virginity. Based on how much I trust book bloggers and Goodreads for recommendations, you’d think i would have read Marchetta by now. But I’m usually the last person to get in on what’s cool. I decided my first Melina Marchetta read should be a book I already own, a library discard of Looking For Alibrandi, Melina Marchetta’s debut and definitely not her best book (I like to save that for last).
Friends, I am kicking myself for waiting so long to read Looking For Alibrandi. It is a contemporary book of the deep variety with laughs and tears and ALL OF THE THINGS! Jospehine Alibrandi goes to a posh private Catholic school and lives with her single mom, which is kind of a big deal in her 1990s Italian-Australian community. Josie’s grandma is kind of a blowhard but plays a huge role. We glimpse about a year of Josie’s life, centered around when her dad, Michael Andretti, enters her life for THE FIRST TIME and when Josie must choose between wealthy, connected John Barton and working class Jacob Coote who sets her pants afire, metaphorically.
Holy F you guys! I actually don’t mind triangles of love when they are written by authors who are not mediocre. And okay, there’s an obvious choice for Josie: Jacob Coote!! He reminds me of Marcus Flutie. And I’m pretty sure 10 people just added Looking For Alibrandi to their TBRs after reading that. BUT, Marchetta doesn’t make the romance the central focus and instead takes the time to develop Josie’s identity struggle and character growth instead.
I wish I could give authors awards for creating satisfactory characters. Seriously, Josie is so melodrama typically irritating ass teen at first, but THEN due to circumstance she truly grows and wormed her way into my heart. I just wanted to be her friend in real life you know — because she’s smart and funny and Italian. Melina Marchetta does an excellent job portraying Josie’s struggle within her ethnic community and among her wealthy classmates. Josie feels as though she fits in nowhere. Which, is a bit bizarre here in 2012, as so many people I know in NY are proud of their Italian heritage. But the way Marchetta paints this in Looking For Alibrandi makes total sense, as Looking For Alibrandi is totally introspective read.
Look, if you are still a Melina Marchetta virgin, I can’t think of a better book to lose it to than Looking For Alibrandi. It’s not her best apparently, so that means you have a whole wide world of even BETTER reads before you, and even though apparently again, it’s not Marchetta’s greatest, it was enough to make this newcomer WANT EVER SINGLE ONE OF MARCHETTA’S BOOKS EVER.
Disclosure: Purchased copy.
This is a Fill In The Gaps book.