Saving Francesca

by Melina Marchetta

Francesca is one of only a few girls entering St. Sebastian’s School for Boys... read more

Francesca is one of only a few girls entering St. Sebastian’s School for Boys in its first year of coeducation. The boys and their teachers learn very quickly that there is more to coeducation than the presence of a few girls as traditions are challenged and resources are shared. As Francesca tries to navigate the new social culture at school, defining and redefining herself through the friendships she makes and those she has left behind, she also has to deal with her formerly powerful and independent mother’s depression, which has seemingly come on suddenly. Francesca’s relationship with her little brother, who attends the same school, is wonderful, and their loyalty to one another trumps any difference in sex or age in conflicts at school and home. Francesca and her father are often at odds about the best way to handle her mother’s illness, and their conflicts are tumultuous and realistic. In her new male-dominated environment, Francesca articulates what many teenage girls feel about their male peers: they are immature, obnoxious, socially clueless, and unhygienic. Her arch nemesis, Will, eventually becomes her crush in spite of all of his flaws, and her contempt for him throughout is so strong that the romance is truly shocking compared to many novels which seem to
make the love interest inevitable in a story that deftly balances humor and deeply felt emotions. (Ages 13–17)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2005

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