Kicking off Diverse Book Week: Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Title: looking for alibrandiLooking for Alibrandi

Author: Melina Marchetta

Genre: YA contemporary

Length: 313 pages

Published by: Penguin

Source: swapped with Mel from YA Midnight Reads


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 no-nonsense 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.

Today we’re kicking off Diverse Book Week with one my Australian audience is probably familiar with – Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta. This week is going to be full of discussions, reviews and recommendations – I hope you enjoy it!


Looking for Alibrandi explores Italian culture within Australia. With Australia being such a multicultural country, there are often people with variegated backgrounds. My school alone has people from all over the world, with dozens of nationalities, cultures, heritages and ethnicities. Josephine’s conflict between Italian values and Australian culture was real, and diverse, and why I’m featuring it as part of Diverse Book Week.


I don’t know how I didn’t read this book sooner. I mean, it’s THE Australian YA contemporary book. Not sure how it took me so long. Frankly I’m ashamed of myself.


This book is so REAL. Josephine is a protagonist you can relate to even now, quite a few years after the book was published. She’s dramatic, and funny, and over-the-top. I absolutely loved her.

I also loved the mother-daughter and father-daughter relationships. I would never get away with some of the things Josie says to her mum, but I could believe that she could. They quibble with each other and argue, but it’s usually pretty light. When her dad appears on the scene, I wanted to hate him, but I couldn’t. It was so realistic how that relationship was portrayed.

The actual beginning, the first few pages of the book, are my favourite EVER. It subverts your expectations straight away, and gives such a sense of character that I know I was going to love this book. Honestly, if you come across it in a bookstore, just read the first couple of pages. They’re FANTASTIC. I loved Josie straight away. She is actually one of the funniest protagonists in YA fiction.

There are culture clashes in this book, and confusion, and loss and friendships and love and loneliness. I can definitely see why this is the most commonly-cited Australian YA contemporary book.

A fantastic story about growing up and coming to terms with who you are. 

And if you liked this, you might like these two, which also focus on different cultures within Australia:

the first thirdthe mimosa tree

Next on Diverse Book Week: I share my recommendations of diverse books as part of Top Ten Tuesday. Though it will probably end up being more than ten…

Rating: 4/5 Wonderkitties





13 thoughts on “Kicking off Diverse Book Week: Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

  1. Love this book, one of my favorites from my younger years (and still today 🙂 ), it was made into a movie as well. Sometimes book to movie adaptions don’t actually work in favor of the book, but i could watch this movie over and over.

  2. I hadn’t heard of this one before, but I’m really intrigued! I live in the US, so I have no idea about Australian cultures and customs, but I love learning about other countries, so I’ll definitely have to give this a try! Coming to terms with who you are is such a rare topic in YA literature and I feel like it’s a topic that should be explored more, so this definitely sounds like something that would interest me!

    Thanks for sharing Emily, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! ❤ Would you happen to know if this is available in the US or just in Australia?

  3. Yay! Thanks for the fantastic review, Emily! I haven’t read this book yet either… *hides*. HOWEVER, I do own a copy and I recently read On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta and fell in love with it, so I’m sure that I’ll be picking up Looking for Alibrandi very soon!

  4. Great review Emily, I enjoyed Looking for Alibrandi when I read it as a required read in high school 🙂 Have you seen the movie as well? I love classic YA reads about culture in Australia, the First Third was great too.

  5. I’m very happy to read this review! I’ve never read a single Marchetta, but my goodness, the praises people give her in their reviews of her books are overwhelming! She just has a knack for writing awesome characters and storylines 🙂 I remember Dre reading this not too long ago and loving it as well so I’ll definitely have to check it out now.

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

  6. I loved this one as well, and only read it a few months ago for the first time. Marchetta writes the Aussie Italian family to perfection and it reminded me so much of Looking for Francesca as well. Loved them both equally. It’s probably THE Aussie contemporary to read, and it doesn’t date either. Teens will no doubt be reading it in another ten years and still be able to related. Awesome review Em 🙂

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