Review: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

I picked this book up on Maggie Stiefvater’s recommendation and I cannot thank her enough for that. This story was incredibly well-written, but the characters were the ones that brought this story to life for me. They were all so fleshed out and memorable, which is one of my favorite things in books.

Saving Francesca follows Francesca school life at St. Sebastian’s, a boys’ school that pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. 

It took me quite a few chapters to get used to the distant narrative, but once I got over the that and got into the characters’ lives, the story started to quickly become a favorite contemporary of mine.

Also, the humor in this book is fantastic, it managed to make me laugh a lot more than I was excepting.

“I hold out my hand to shake on it. Luca and I do that all the time, and for a moment I feel so childish, but I’m too embarrassed to retrieve the hand.
“No complaining if anyone breaks a nail?” he asks, looking at my outstretched hand, but he doesn’t extend his.
“You can complain all you like. You can cry as well,” I tell him.
I get a hint of a smile and then he shakes my hand.”

From here on this review will contain spoilers.

As I mentioned before, the characters made this story so memorable for me, particularly the relationship between the mother and daughter, it was so well-done and beautifully explored. I loved it when Franscese talked about her mother, Mia.

“But it was never in Mia’s makeup to back down.
“Is that what you want, Frankie? That I let you win?”
Yes, I’d want to scream. Just once, let me win.
We’d go to bed furious with each other, and then she’d wake me in the middle of the night and come and lie on my bed and we’d talk for hours, about nothing and everything, and she’d let me touch the scars on her stomach—the scars from where they cut me out of her.”

Melina Marchetta characters are so unique, everything  Francesca was feeling I was feeling right there with her.

“I personally can’t do the Vulcan salute with my fingers and have felt inferior because of it, so disliking William Trombal more than ever suits me just fine. He’s laughing at something one of them says, and it transforms him completely. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen him smile, and it’s kind of devastating. They walk by me, completely oblivious. Until the very last moment, when he looks over at me and our eyes hold for a moment or two.
And I get this twitch in my stomach.”

Those little moments with Will and Francesca felt so real. And now my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. It was so unexpected when they started talking, yet so ideal. I really enjoyed how natural it felt when they were together.

“Will’s arms tremble as they hold me and his heart beats hard against me and I know that whatever I’m feeling is mutual. For a moment I taste the alcohol on his breath, and it brings me back to reality.
“Do that sober and I’ll be impressed,” I say before walking away.”

But then the devastating thing happens:

“It’s much worse than that.”
“Can you stop being so dramatic? I don’t do devastation,” I tell her.
“Will Trombal has a girlfriend.”
Oh my God, I am so devastated.
“I think she’s devastated.”
I try to shake my head. “I’m not. . . .”
“Yes you are.”

I was definitely devastated because I had so much fun reading about their interactions—but then, a girlfriend?? Why Will??

I really hate the cheating trope in books, which is why I lowered my rating. I do think that Francesca handled the situation better than what I’m used to in books. She slowly finds her voice throughout the story, and I loved how she wasn’t afraid to confront Will after she found out about the news. But still… I couldn’t get over it.

“And what’s the name for people who kiss other people when they’ve got a girlfriend?”
He stops and turns around, looking me straight in the eye.
“A weak, spineless prick.”
Oh great, I think. Take the right to call you names right of me, you . . . weak, spineless prick.”

I’m also really glad that this storyline didn’t focus on one or two main characters because Melina Marchetta made me feel attached to everyone. And I absolutely loved it.
Jimmy and Thomas and Shaheen and Will and Tara and Siobhan and Justine and the families were great and I can’t stop raving because the friendships in this story were phenomenal.
Thomas especially surprised me with how much I liked him towards the end. He managed to make me laugh so hard and smile and feel for him, and Marchetta is just an incredible author.

“Later on, we walk back to Thomas Mackee’s car and I ask him why he doesn’t drink.
“Because I want to be the first male in the Mackee family to reach forty and still have his liver,” he says bluntly.
In the dark I can’t tell whether he’s serious or not.
I lean against a streetlight and throw up, just near his shoe. He looks down at the ground and then at me.
“The guacamole was a mistake,” he says matter-of-factly.
For the second time that night he makes me laugh. “Don’t make me have to like you,” I tell him.”

I can now completely understand why Maggie recommended this book (thank you thank you thank you!), it is the perfect thing to read if your missing the raven boys and their chemistry with each other and Blue (I know I do) (a LOT).

But while the overall story made me really happy, I did lose my enthusiasm a bit towards the end. I don’t know what happened, maybe it was the whole ‘Will has a girlfriend’ drama or maybe I was just tired. Because I was definitely more invested on finding out what would happen with Francesca’s mother than what would happen with William.

“I just want to wake up in the morning and for the light to be on,” she sobs, “and I want to stop feeling like a success just because I can eat my toast and I want to be able to brush my teeth without throwing up and then when I get through all of that, I want to work at getting that look out of your eyes. That look of fear that I put there and I hate myself for that.”

Mia was my favorite throughout this whole storyline, and I’m glad I got to see her get slowly better.


4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Saving Francesca, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

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