Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Title: Looking For Alibrandi
Author: Melina Marchetta

Release Date: 5th October 1992

My Rating: 4/5

Blurb:
'And what's this about you and your friends driving around Bondi Junction half-dressed last week?'

'Who told you that?'

'Signora Formosa saw you. She said you and your friends almost ran he rover. She rang Zia Patrizia's next-door neighborhood and it got back to Nonna.'

Telecom would go broke if it weren't for the Italians.

Josephine Alibrandi is seventeen, illegitimate, and in her final year at a wealthy Catholic school. This is the year her father comes back into her life, the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family's past and the year she sets herself free.

I'll run one day. Run from my life. To be free and think for myself. Not as an Australia and not as an Italian and not as an in between. I'll run to be emancipated.

In A Nutshell:
Looking for Alibrandi is an excellent account of growing up in a culture that other people may not understand. Josie is still just a regular teenage girl; uncertain in herself and the direction she wants to take in life, and trying to juggle the pressures of family, school, friendships and boys. This a must-read Australian YA classic.

My Review:
Looking for Alibrandi is the first book I have read where I have seen the film first. Normally I will always read the book prior to seeing the film, if I see it at all, but this time, it wasn’t really my fault. I was only 5-years-old when the book was released and 12 when the film came out. I had only just discovered YA fiction and I’d never heard of Melina Marchetta. I absolutely loved the film and I think what made it so good is that Melina actually wrote the screenplay for it, rather than someone else re-writing an author’s story. All the important bits were included and now, having read the novel, for the first time I am not disappointed by the film version of a book. It must have really stuck with me because I can’t even listen to U2’s With or Without You without thinking of the film (if you have seen it you will know why). But enough about the film, this is a book review after all.

Looking for Alibrandi is an Aussie YA classic. How do I go about writing about a book that was released almost 20 years ago to the day and is still a favourite on so many bookshelves? Alibrandi was Melina’s debut novel and it won many awards, and it is easy to see why. It gives the reader the opportunity to realise they are not alone in what may be going on in their life and I believe it is a special person who can communicate with teenagers in the way Melina can.

Looking for Alibrandi is an excellent account of growing up in a culture that other people may not understand, which is such a prevalent issue here in Australia, even now, two decades after the novel was written. What Josie Alibrandi has to deal with are the same problems that teenagers are faced with every day. The issues are timeless. She reflects a typical teenage girl; uncertain in herself and the direction she wants to take, and trying to juggle the pressures of family, school, friendships and boys. It’s very interesting to see Josie mature in her understanding of the world and her acceptance of who she is and what part she may play in the years to come. The search for acceptance in all areas of life and the highs and lows of the family dynamic are universal.

The final year of high school is hard enough, but for Josie, having always lived with her mother and under the watchful eyes of her very traditional Italian grandmother, her life is thrown into disarray when the father she has never met suddenly reappears in her life. Not only that, but she has to navigate the unfamiliar territory of having a boyfriend, come to terms with the loss of someone she cares about, and unravel the secrets and lies of the Alibrandi family.

Having now read Melina’s four contemporary novels, I can safely say that her writing is captivating and it is very easy to sit and read a whole book at once. If you haven’t discovered the writing of Melina Marchetta, I strongly suggest you do. You won’t regret it.



Looking For Alibrandi Film Poster


Three generations of Alibrandi women

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