Retro Friday: Looking For Alibrandi Melina Marchetta Book Review

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).

Looking For Alibrandi Melina Marchetta Book Cover

Looking For Alibrandi

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.

Other reviews of Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta:

Steph Su Reads
One More Page
Forever Young Adult

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I’ve never heard of Melina Marchetta before and now I feel like I did something wrong to not have heard about her XD

  2. Yay! Congrats on your de-virginization:) Of the six Marchetta books I’m aware of, I have read three and loved them all. To me she’s the female equivalent of John Green, her characters and voice are just amazing. My goal is to read all her works by year’s end:)

    • I like what you say about her being the female equivalent of John Green. I mean, I don’t think she’s quirky in the way she writes like John Green can be, but I just love how intelligent her work is.

  3. Yeah, I’ve still got my Marchetta v-card but it sounds like I’d better get busy on losing that. And between you raving about her love triangle writing and Heather saying she’s like the female John Green, I’m totally in.

  4. Oh hey, the Jacob Coote comparison to Marcus Flutie does make sense. 😛 So glad you’ve lost your Melina Marchetta virginity. She’s one of my favorite authors and I’ve read all of her books. I CAN’T WAIT for you to read Jellicoe Road and The Piper’s Son (only after Saving Francesca because it’s a companion novel) because those two are my favorites.

  5. I’m still waiting for the day you read Jellicoe Road and your brain explodes….

    This is one of the only two of her novels I haven’t read yet, and I definitely need/want to! I’m very intrigued by the Marcus Flutie name dropping.

    I love how romance is never the central focus of her books, but it is always scorching hot anyway.

    • Dude hurry up and reading Looking For Alibrandi, it’s totally on your gap list.
      And word, with the side romance it’s hotter than other books where romance is the main theme.

  6. I’m still a Marchetta virgin. I want our fist time to be special. Like at a cabin, by the fire, with rose petals and candles. Oh, and wine. And I’m sure I’ll never forget it because I know it’s gonna be mind-blowing. I honestly hadn’t even heard of this one, but I’m sold. I don’t mind triangles when well written either, especially when the romance isn’t THE story.

  7. I’m sooooo happy you loved your first Marchetta book! I still need to read this one and The Piper’s Son…then I will be all caught up and waiting on more. I can’t wait to see what you think of the rest of her books!

  8. I’ll be adding this one to my list too. I’ve only read Jellicoe Road by Marchetta and it was amazing, I don’t know what I’m waiting for to read one of her other books, she’s obviously a talented writer. I actually hadn’t heard much of this one but I will be looking for it, thanks for the great review!

  9. You’re not the last one to get on the Marchetta train.
    This kid is.

  10. Added to my tbr pile. I’ve heard Marchetta’s amazing, but haven’t read any. I should probably rectify that…

  11. I’m about 2/3 of the way through Finnikin of the Rock, and I’m loving it. One of the best books I’ve read in a while, and now I’m hell bent on reading everything Melina Marchetta has ever written.