Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Ever since I fell in love with Melina Marchetta's stunning Printz Award winner, Jellicoe Road, I've wanted to track down her other novels for more, more, more. Each one has gotten rave reviews so I knew I couldn't go wrong. Luckily for me, I found Looking for Alibrandi in the bargain bin at my local bookstore and scooped it up pronto.

Josephine Alibrandi has never chosen the easy road in life. As a child born out of wedlock in a highly traditional Italian-Australian family, Josie has spent her life dealing with hostility stemming from her fatherless state. And it seems to come from everyone around Josie including her traditional Italian (and therefore disapproving) grandmother, the wealthy schoolmates kids at her posh private school who give her grief over her mixed heritage, and even the battle axe nuns at said school who are always onto to Josie for something. Josie is just looking to finish up her last year of school when her mysterious, biological father unexpectedly moves back to town and discovers that he actually has a teenage daughter(!) and Josie must decided if she wants to have anything to do with the man who abandoned her mother as a pregnant teenager so many years ago. And if Josie's life couldn't get any more complicated, she unexpectedly finds herself continually drawn to bad boy Joseph Coote who couldn't be more difficult to understand. 

I cannot begin to say how reading Looking for Alibrandi affected me. Truly I cannot understand how this is a first novel - Melina Marchetta wove so many details and plot lines into a fairly small novel (only 250 pages) and convincingly tied up every one. Not only is this fabulous book about discovering things about yourself, it's about coming to understand (and love) your family and learning to trust those around you - even with hard truths. And then there's Josie's voice! I could have read another 250 pages from this girl, she is so captivating. Her nuanced observations of high school and family are astoundingly brilliant and altogether fresh. Take this section for example - one of my favorite bits on the very reason we all got up and dragged ourselves to endure yet another day of school:
The time before class starts in the morning is the most exciting. Because we haven't seen each other for sixteen hours, it's gossip galore.

What happened on TV. What happened at work if one worked. What happeend on the way from or to school. What good-looking guy spoke to you. What ideas you came up with during the night. What kind of nagging your parents did. What magazine you bought on the way from or to school. Who as the best-looking guy in the magazine. Why he was the best-looking guy in the magazine.

The list goes on. By the end of the day we've heard it all. We're sick of each other and look forward to getting away. But those first ten minutes are the very reason you come to school. Miss out on them and you are behind the times.
Exactly. I could spend days with this girl. Also, Ms. Marchetta really should open a school on something for writers on how to really write a convincing bad boy love interest. Just like Jonah Griggs, Joseph Coote is an incredibly intense character that morphs into this compelling guy beyond his long hair and motorcycle riding status (yeah, he's that hot). If only all YA boys could be this well drawn. le sigh. 

Also in my searching, I turned up a movie adaptation to this book. Netflix doesn't carry it but does anybody know if it'd be worth tracking down? Seeing Joseph Coote in the flesh interests me greatly.

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:

Avid Book Reader review
Books Love Me review
Chachic's Book Nook review

Reviewer X review
YAnnabe review 

book source: purchased


Angiegirl said...

Sounds awesome. I really need to read another contemporary Marchetta. FINNIKIN left a bad taste in my mouth and I keep hoping for more JELLICOE. Will have to give this one and SAVING FRANCESCA a try.

Chachic said...

Oooh what a lucky bargain find! Like you, I read this one after I fell in love with Jellicoe Road. Do you know that they made this into a movie in Australia? Haven't seen it though.

I hope you get to read Saving Francesca soon especially since the companion novel is coming out early next year. :) The male protagonist in that one isn't a bad boy but still very lovable.

Nomes said...

i am so glad you love this book! I got to study in it high school - and it was so much fun :)

also, i love that quote! i could almost quote the whole book.saving francesca is comepletely awesome and one of my all time favourites. i hope you get a chance to read it!


Holly said...

Great review, Michelle! I've read Saving Francesca but didn't like it nearly as much as Jellicoe. Good to know this one is excellent as well. Love the quote - very witty and thoughtful - and the sound of this Joseph Coote guy.

Michelle said...

Angie - Oh it was so good. I still need to track down FRANCESCA but I think you'd like this one.

Chachic - I saw that about the movie and am dying to watch it! I can't find it on netflix here so maybe I'll track down a used copy on amazon or something... And FRANCESCA is next on my list ;)

Nomes - Okay, seriously. I want to move to Australia. You got to study this one in HS?!? So jealous. Love it to bits.

Holly - Yes - Josie is hilarious as well as witty - a perfect combo in my book. I think you'd enjoy this one!!

KIKA said...

Oh my goodness Michelle, yes yes and YES! to everything you said in your review! I loved it :D I just recently foune Melina Machetta and I just want to go out and buy all her books! LOL I loved your review :D and yes I heard there was a movie adaption too! wahoo!