Title: Looking 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!
HOW IS IT DIVERSE?
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:
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