Sunday, July 28, 2013

Review: Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Looking for Alibrandi Melina Marchetta
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
Release Date: April 1, 1999
Publisher: Orchard Books 
Source: Own 
For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it’s just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it’s her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn’t be any stricter—but that doesn’t seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.

Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the nononsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josephine is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family’s past—and the year she sets herself free.

Told with unmatched depth and humor, this novel—which swept the pool of Australian literary awards and became a major motion picture—is one to laugh through and cry with, to cherish and remember

Currently listening to: Lightening by The Wanted

I’ve been a big fan of Melina Marchetta’s after reading Jellicoe Road. I didn’t really have a drive to pick up this book but when I saw it at my library, I decided to pick it up because why no? Looking for Alabrandi was Marchetta’s debut novel and while it wasn’t as good as Jellicoe Road (or Saving Francesca), I enjoyed reading this book.

It’s odd for me to talk about Marchetta’s writing style since I read her later books first and her debut now but I’ll try my best. Having read Jellicoe Road and now this novel, Marchetta’s writing has only gotten better. I’ve found that Marchetta has a great blend of fast paced dialogue mixed in skillfully with writing that is almost lyrical. The words seem to simply flow off the pages like a lullaby but a lullaby that has your full attention and not making you fall asleep.

It’s common for a person to connect to a character they read about. It’s not often that a person will not only connect to the character but see themselves in that character (and I’ve used to word “character” about fifty million time in that sentence!) For me, Josie Alibrandi was that character for me. No, I’m not an Italian Australian (I wish). No, I don’t only live with my mom and no, my grandma’s not close to where I live. Despite all of those difference, I found a similarity in the fact that as an Indian American, I’ve struggled to accept if I’m one or the other. Like Josie, one side tells me I’m only one nationality while the other doesn’t fully accept me. This is, in my opinion, one part of the two struggles Josie is facing in Looking for Alibrandi.

Josie’s journey also dealt with her relationships with the two strongest women in her life: her mother and her grandmother. Throughout the novel, Josie realizes that her mother and grandmother are more complex than she ever knew and there was more to them than meets the eye. Personally, I found both relationships to believable and I loved the ups and downs in Josie and her mother’s relationship. They argued, made up, argued again, made up again, and so on and so forth. It was such a refreshing aspect to this novel because lately, parents are always missing in YA books. In Looking for Alibrandi, parents are a huge aspect of not only Josie’s life but the plot as well. I will say, Josie’s grandmother was hard for me to care for in the beginning but I was surprised at how many connections I made between Katia Alibrandi and my own mother and grandmother. Honestly, I guessed the big reveal dealing with Josie’s grandmother around 60 pages into the book which was a bit of a let down.

I also want to make a note of the fact that there was sort of a love triangle at first which was quickly sorted out BUT I’m sad to report that I didn’t care for the romantic aspect of this novel. Yeah, I KNOW. Frankly, I didn’t care for Jacob Coote. He was an asshole and I was super happy with the ending! Besides, Jonah Griggs you guys. Jonah freakin’ Griggs.

Overall, I enjoyed Looking for Alibrandi. It’s a really great story and the characters are just as lovely but the writing isn’t the strongest in terms of Marchetta writing but being her debut novel, it was okay and far better than other novels I’ve read. Sure it’s only 3 stars but Looking for Alibrandi was worth reading. I think having read a stronger book first worked well for me since I’m a fan of Melina Marchetta’s so I can see the good and the bad but still enjoy the books!
Cover Comments: 
Eh. Boring. Like, really, really boring. Had it not been for "Melina Marchetta," I wouldn't have picked up this book to read!